On The Radio- A decade since the 2008 flood


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Cedar Rapids

Kasey Dresser | April 9, 2018

This week’s segment looks at statistics from 10 years ago when Iowa experienced the 6th largest FEMA disaster in the U.S. 

Transcript:

This year marks a decade since the historic Iowa Floods of 2008.

This is the Iowa Environmental Focus. 

Most of the flooding started in early June, finally receding in July. Thousands of Iowans were left displaced and jobless from the rising waters. The banks of the Mississippi, the Cedar, the Iowa, and the Wapsipinicon Rivers all overflowed. Cedar Rapids, Iowa City, and the University of Iowa were among the worst affected in Eastern Iowa. Recovery has taken nearly a decade. 

At its peak, the Cedar River was around 20 feet above flood stage. In Cedar Rapids alone, around 10,000 residents were forced to evacuate their homes. The estimated financial assistance received by Iowans as a result of the 2008 floods totaled $848 million. This was the  6th largest FEMA disaster declaration in the U.S.. 

The Iowa Flood Center, established as a result of the 2008 floods, has been working diligently with many communities to make them more resilient to the impact of future flooding. The Flood Center is the only facility of its kind in the nation, dedicated to helping Iowans better prepare for more flooding.

For more information, visit iowa-environmental-focus dot org. 

From the UI Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research, I’m Betsy Stone. 

On The Radio- 793 gigagrams of mercury found in Alaska


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Glacier Bay National Park (pontla/flickr)

Kasey Dresser | March 5, 2018

This week’s segment looks at research published in last month’s Geophysical Research Letters about the amount of mercury found in Arctic permafrost in Alaska.

Transcript: 

New research states that Arctic permafrost in Alaska holds more mercury than expected.

This is the Iowa Environmental Focus.

Arctic permafrost is frozen soil, rock, and sediment that stays at or below freezing for at least two consecutive years. A quarter of the Northern Hemisphere’s landmass is covered by permafrost.

Recently a group of scientists drilled into 13 soil cores taken from different parts of Alaska. The findings reported that the permafrost held 793 gigagrams of mercury. This is equivalent to more than 15 million gallons or 23 Olympic size swimming pools. These numbers continue to increase if you add the current thawed layer of soil that sits above it.

By 2100 anywhere from 30 to 99 percent of the permafrost could have thawed leaving the question: Where will the mercury go?

Carl Lamborg, an assistant professor of ocean sciences at the University of California, Santa Cruz discussed in an interview that it’s unclear what will happen to the mercury when the permafrost thaws but there is reason for concern. More research will be needed to understand the impact of mercury in the atmosphere.

These new findings were published last month in the Geophysical Research Letters.

For more information, visit iowa-environmental-focus-dot-org.

From the UI Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research, I’m Betsy Stone.

California Wildfires


Kasey Dresser | January 5, 2018

Hello everybody!

I’m Kasey and I’m a student at the University of Iowa. I’m currently visiting home during winter break in beautiful San Diego, California. And as I’m sure you seen on the news I came home after an extremely destructive fire season.  Luckily I live closer to the coast so my home was not affected but my grandma and several of my friends were evacuated.  All of the local high schools, including my sisters, were closed. Last weekend, My dad and I headed inland to film the damage.

 

Iowan cities reducing pollution to fulfill Paris Climate Change Agreement


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Wind Power (Ian Hill/ flickr) 
Kasey Dresser | December 29,  2017

Since Trump has officially pulled support from the Paris Climate Change Accord, mayors within the U.S. are pledging for their cities to help meet the goals. 50 plus mayors signed the Chicago Climate Charter to meet Paris Climate Agreement’s pollution reduction goals during the North American Climate Summit. Des Moines, Dubuque, Fairfield, Iowa City, Cedar Rapids and several other Iowan mayors have now stepped up to do the same.

There are 3 main goals to reduce pollution:

  1. Utilizing Iowa’s wind power, achieve 100% renewable energy for municipal electricity needs by 2022.
  2. Buying Electric Vehicles (EV) to lower greenhouse gas emissions.
  3. Replacing buildings with incandescent bulbs to LEDS and getting rid of any old appliances or softwares.

The Environmental Law & Policy Center is excited that cities are stepping up and plans to make arrangement that will tailor to Iowa’s benefit.

Sustainability volunteers needed for University of Iowa Dance Marathon


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Recycle (Erin’s Rainbow, flickr)
Kasey Dresser | December 22,  2017

Dance Marathon is a student-run philanthropy dedicated to supporting oncology patients being treated at The University of Iowa Children’s Hospital. It is a year-round fundraising  organization that culminates with a 24 hour long big event in February.

The organization is currently looking for volunteers to help with recycling, food waste, and more. The event is February 3rd- 4th.

For questions contact David Strabala, DM operations coordinator or Michael Marchione DM volunteer coordinator.

Sign up here: http://www.signupgenius.com/go/10c0c49a5ae2caafb6-dance15

Iowa airports becoming more environmentally efficient


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Photo by Travelin’ Librarian, Flickr.
Kasey Dresser | December 20,  2017

The Eastern Iowa Airport is making important steps towards going green and saving energy costs. The next step in their $55 million remodel is adding 738 solar panels to the roof. A $579,870 grant from U.S. Department of Transportation will cover 90 percent of the solar panel installation.

The Eastern Iowa Airport recently installed 2 electronic car charging stations in short term parking and two more in long term parking.

The airport also plans on adding new heated pavement technology developed at Iowa State University that will save the cost of plowing, de-icing chemicals, and wastewater treatment for the chemical runoff.

In 2015 the airport partnered with the University of Iowa to grow and burn miscanthus in the UI power plant. The planting of miscanthus in the 2,000 acres of farmland and leasing out farmland for farmers to plant soybeans has also improved water quality. “We have found, through our partnership with ISU, that those prairie grasses really help improve water quality in terms of runoff and soil erosion,” Airport Director Marty Lenss said. “With our parking lot expansion that we just completed, we modified our stormwater detention basins and they will be planted with pollinators this summer.”

Another step towards more a more environmentally efficient airport is their lights. In February 2011, all halide lights installed in 1985 were replaced with LEDs. This project reduced energy by around 80 percent.

A rise in Bitcoin’s value could lead to an energy crisis


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m00n (John Smith/ flickr)
Kasey Dresser | December 13,  2017

Bitcoin is a type of digital currency or “digital wallet.” It is used like regular money to transfer funds and generate currency but without a central bank. Over the last week, Bitcoin’s value has gone from less than $1,000 to $17,000. 1 Bitcoin is currently equal to 17,793 U.S. dollars. The money was originally viewed as “dirty,” being used for black market items. However this recent surge has sparked interest from mainline investors and bitcoin is looking to be worth millions more in the next month.

Bitcoin is run through data mines which are essentially large rooms of computers running an algorithm to code each transaction. The problem is the 32 terawatts of energy bitcoin will use every year. That much energy has the ability to power 3 million U.S. households; compared to Visa transactions, that only uses enough energy to power 50,000 American homes. According to the Bitcoin Energy Consumption Index, bitcoin could use enough energy to power all of the U.S. by 2019.

More than half of the Bitcoin “mining pools” are run out of China. Most the energy produced in China comes from coal firepower plants which has the potential to increase smog and pollution in the near by areas.