Summer in a climate-changing Iowa

Crops face a potential decrease with rising temperatures (/stock)

Natalia Welzenbach-Marcu | July 10th, 2018

Iowa summers have always been hot and humid, but the summer of 2018 in particular has had unusual temperature spikes early in the season. Brutal waves of heat and humidity have left many to wonder exactly how Iowa got to this point.

On average, between 1901 and 2016, Iowa’s average temperatures rose about one degree. Only one degree–but the temperature increase has profound effects regardless.

Crops are affected by even incremental temperature increases, especially corn, which has long been a staple crop of the Midwest. All it takes, according to Des Moines researcher Michelle Tigchalaar, is an average temperature increase of 2 to 4 degrees Celsius–or between 3.6 and 7.2 Fahrenheit–for overall crop yields across the United States to decrease by a staggering 18%.

Iowa, with its 1 degree increase, is a quarter of the way there already.

Potential solutions include working on adapting corn and other crops to become more resistant to climate and temperature changes and implementing architecture and infrastructure designed to keep ground-level areas cooler and deflect heat, but the climate may change quicker than we can combat it.


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