Changing Iowa Weather – the new normal?

Listen to this week’s radio segment on Iowa’s changing weather.

After a summer of record breaking weather, some Iowans are wondering: is this the new normal?

This is the Iowa Environmental Focus.

Over the past 20 years, our weather has changed. We’ve seen more precipitation and intense rain events, which have led to heavy flooding throughout the state. Research at Iowa State by Professor Gene Takle, suggests that these trends will likely continue.

Consider these startling statistics:

  • 57 of Iowa’s 99 counties have been declared presidential disaster zones, and 20 counties are eligible for federal agricultural disaster assistance.
  • June was the second wettest month in state history, and by mid-August, this was already the second wettest summer in 127 years of record keeping.
  • Flooding in Ames was worse this year than even 1993.

But this year isn’t unique: the past 36 months have been the wettest in state history.

For more information, visit Iowa I’m Jerry Schnoor, from the University of Iowa’s Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research.

Thank you, and enjoy Iowa’s environment.

CGRER’s Forbes nets grant to improve elementary science education teaching

From the University of Iowa News Services:

Cory Forbes
Cory Forbes

Elementary educators (grades K-6) are expected to be content experts in many different areas -– from math and literacy to science.

Yet few of them have the specialized training and support necessary to excel in this critical content area, according to Cory Forbes, science education assistant professor in the University of Iowa College of Education.

However, thanks to a grant of more than $250,000, Forbes is launching a project in the Davenport Community School District this fall that investigates how and why elementary teachers use existing science curriculum materials to teach science. The goal is to help educators teach science in ways that best promote student learning.

The district is one of Iowa’s largest high-needs school districts, Forbes said, and this project will engage 60 elementary teachers in evaluation, planning and instruction.
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On the Radio: Preventing flood damage

Below is the transcript of the second installment of our radio segment. In it, we once again hammer home the importance of flood prevention. If you can’t catch the clip on the air, you can listen to it here.

Thousands of acres of farmland, hundreds of homes and businesses and a picturesque Lake Delhi are the latest casualties of another flood-filled Iowa summer.

This is the Iowa Environmental Focus

This summer, floods have caused millions of dollars in damage to Iowa communities and farms, and 57 of Iowa’s 99 counties have been declared disaster zones.

As rainfall continues to increase, we know that Iowa will flood again.  Though we cannot prevent floods, we can work to limit their damage.

Today, hundreds of urban and rural Iowans are doing just that – they are volunteering with their local soil and water conservation districts or forming watershed groups.  Right now, some 204 watershed programs are underway across the state.

If you would like to become involved in your watershed, contact your county soil and water conservation district.

If we all work together, we can reduce the impact of future floods.

For more information visit Iowa

I’m Jerry Schnoor, from the University of Iowa Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research.

Thank you, and enjoy Iowa’s environment.

Anatomy of Iowa Floods: Preparing for the Future – Seminar Series – 2010

Filling the Burlington City Council chambers, Southeast Iowa residents patiently listen to the panel of flood experts in Burlington on June 16, 2010.

Next stop: Red Oak. The Iowa Floods of 2008 are receding into history, but Iowans can learn from them, and from flooding this past summer. That was the message put forth in community seminars sponsored in part by the University of Iowa Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research this summer and fall.

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On the Radio: Spurring interest in the sciences, Back to School Special

This week marks the beginning of CGRER’s new radio segment (unsurprisingly) called the Iowa Environmental Focus. Below is the audio and transcript of our first clip. For more information on the segment, check out our “On the Radio” page.

Click here to listen to the clip (1:15).


How can we improve science education in Iowa’s schools?

This is the Iowa Environmental Focus.

As Iowa kids head back to school this fall, we would like to highlight a group of Iowa researchers working to make our classrooms better places to learn.

During the next two years, Cory Forbes, a U of I education professor, is leading a team that will engage 30 Davenport teachers to study how to improve the way science is taught in our schools.

Right now, many American kids are falling behind in science, showing little interest in the material. This project looks to change that by promoting interactive learning.

If more kids get the chance to DO science, kids may decide they like it. And if we see more interest in science here, our kids will better equipped to meet the challenges of the 21st century and to keep Iowa prosperous.

For more information visit us at Iowa Environmental Focus dot O-R-G.

Welcome back to school, everybody. Let’s make this another great year in our local schools.

I’m Jerry Schnoor from the University of Iowa Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research.

Thank you, and enjoy Iowa’s environment.


Rural-Urban coalitions key to flood preparation

Nathan Young, an Iowa Flood Center researcher, shows off some off some recently-developed mapping technology. - Photo by Joe Bolkcom

On Tuesday, a group of flood researchers and policy makers stopped in Elkader for the first of four  seminars that will examine Iowa’s recent history of flooding, and what communities can do to better prepare for floods.

James Q. Lynch, reporter for the Cedar Rapids Gazette picked up on one key theme of the meeting: Rural-Urban Coalition building:

Flood prevention starts at the upper end of watersheds, but rural-urban coalitions will be needed to develop policies to reduce flood potential and damage, participants in a flood seminar agreed Sept. 7.

“This is not a case of ‘urban rules,'” Sen. Pam Jochum, D-Dubuque, told about 40 people who attended a state-sponsored seminar on flood preparation in Elkader. “We all have to be in this together.”

A handful of northeast Iowa farmers agreed that practices on their land affect their downstream neighbors, so they should be a part of the solution.

In fact, said Richard Jensen of rural Elgin, that rural-urban partnership exists in the form of taxpayer-supported programs that help defray the cost of water conservation practices on his farmland.

“I’m just an old man with an audience here,” Jensen said, “but the real solution is to treat the cause – the upper end of the watershed.”

Right now, there are over 204 watershed projects completed or underway, according to Wayne Petersen, of the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship.

For more information on the flood preparation, and to view the speakers’ presentations, check out CGRER’s post-event resource page.

On September 14, researchers will head west to Cherokee for a 4:00p.m. presentation. Late last June, Cherokee residents and business owners were forced to evacuate as heavy rains caused the Little Sioux River to spill over its banks.

Photos from Delhi

Thanks to this summer's flooding, Lake Delhi is no longer a hot spot for vacationers. - Photo by Brian Cook/Manchester Press

Along the way to Tuesday’s flood preparation seminar in Elkader, Sen. Joe Bolkcom, ecologist Connie Mutel, flood researcher Nathan Young, and Wayne Peterson of the Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship stopped by the former site of Lake Delhi to check out the destruction caused by this summer’s flooding.

Below is a sampling of Bolkcom’s photos.