On The Radio- Increasing Summer Heat


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Midday heat (wexass/flickr)

Kasey Dresser | September 17, 2018

This weeks segment talks about why Iowa and other mid-latitude states are experiencing hotter summers.

Transcript:

Summers in mid-latitudes, including Iowa, are warming faster than other seasons, a recent study found.

This is the Iowa Environmental Focus.

Between forty and sixty degrees latitude in the Northern Hemisphere, an area from the southern Iowa border to mid Canada warmed more rapidly in the summer than in the winter over a thirty-eight-year-period,

The study published in the journal Science attributed this finding to the fact that a substantial amount of Earth’s land mass is concentrated in this zone, and land tends to heat up more quickly than the ocean. This can have serious implications on agriculture, because much of this land is used to grow crops in the summer, particularly in Iowa.

This study was conducted using a fingerprint method, meaning the researchers could distinguish natural climatic warming from increased temperatures due to human activity.

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

From the UI Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research, I’m Sara E. Mason.

 

On The Radio- Soil Conservation Mapping


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Kasey Dresser | September 10, 2018

This weeks segment talks about how Iowa is the country leader in soil conservation mapping.

Transcript:

Iowa is now one of the country’s leaders in soil conservation mapping.

This is the Iowa Environmental Focus.

Iowa officials have recently completed a map of the conservation efforts in the state. This map identifies the six different methods of soil conservation used in Iowa—including terraces, ponds, grassed waterways, sediment control basins, and more. The map shows where practices are deployed and how they are funded.

The map also acts as a visual for determining how different areas of Iowa are being funded for their conservation efforts, and whether that funding is public or private.

Iowa is the first state to conduct such a thorough analysis of its conservation practices statewide. The project took three years and was a joint effort between Iowa State University and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. Researchers used something called LiDAR—laser imaging software—and years of aerial photographs to compile the conservation map.

Iowa State University is currently performing additional research to build a newer map, one that also shows the reduction of sediment and phosphorous buildup in Iowa’s waterways.

For more information, visit Iowa Environmental Focus dot org.

From the UI Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research, I’m Sara E Mason.

 

On the Radio- Air pollution linked to diabetes


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A skyline obscured. (大杨/flickr)

Eden DeWald | August 27, 2018

This week’s segment explores a link between air pollution and diabetes.

Transcript:

Air pollution from power plants, wild fires and vehicle exhaust has been linked to cases of type two diabetes.

This is the Iowa Environmental Focus.

Air pollution has long been linked with numerous respiratory and cardiovascular diseases. A new study, published in The Lancet, studied how fine particulate matter pollution is linked to diabetes. Researchers monitored over one and a half million United States veterans to assess their general health, exposure to air pollution, and whether or not they developed diabetes.

The study concluded that there were a significant number of cases of diabetes attributable to particulate matter the size of 2.5 micrometers. Cases of diabetes caused by air pollution were found to be more concentrated in low income areas across the globe.

2.5 micrometer particulate matter can easily be inhaled and enter the respiratory and circulatory systems of humans due to their very small size. The particulates can be generated from anything, from wildfires to car exhaust. The study makes a point that reduction in exposure to this kind of air pollution will reap health benefits worldwide.

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

From the UI Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research, I’m Sara E. Mason.

On the Radio- Air quality of national parks


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A stunning view of Zion National Park (Matt K/flickr)

Eden DeWald | August 20, 2018

This week’s segment explores how patronage has affected the air quality of our national parks.

Transcript:

Poor air quality threatens the beauty of our treasured national parks.

This is the Iowa Environmental Focus.

A recent study done by Iowa State University and Cornell University discovered that park visitor vehicle emissions and regional air pollution have negatively affected air quality at our national parks. The study found that between 1990 and 2014, the average ozone levels measured in the 33 largest national parks were the same as ozone levels from the 20 largest US cities. The parks host more than 300 million visitors each year.

The Regional Haze Rule was put in place by the EPA to protect air quality at our national parks. However, researchers found that this has only been effective in reducing ozone in areas that exceed the “unhealthy” limit of 70 parts per billion. Exposure to ozone can have a negative effect on your respiratory system, and can reduce visibility when present.

With millions of Americans flocking to the parks each summer, it is crucial that more protections are made to protect park visitors, as well as the national parks themselves.

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

From the UI Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research, I’m Sara E. Mason.

On the Radio- An excess of parking spaces


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Fewer Americans are getting driver’s licenses. (Joey C./flickr)

Eden DeWald | August 13th, 2018

This week’s segment focuses on the amount of land the parking spaces occupy in Des Moines.

Transcript:

There are more than nineteen parking spaces for every household in the city of Des Moines, a new report shows.

This is the Iowa Environmental Focus.

The report by the Research Institute for Housing America examined the number of parking spaces in five American cities, and found that generally, the supply of parking spaces greatly exceeds the demand. In Des Moines, there are one-point-six million parking spaces, and around eighty-three thousand households.

The abundance of parking is not being widely utilized either. The report states that a spot-count of a downtown Des Moines park-and-ride was at only eight percent occupancy.

The author argues that generally, the need for parking is declining. In Seattle, for example, forty percent of households do not have a car, yet parking covers forty percent of Seattle’s land.

Fewer Americans have a driver’s license, especially in younger generations, and companies like Lyft and Uber are reducing trips made in personal vehicles.

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

From the Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research, I’m Sara E. Mason.

On the Radio- The coral of the future


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Coral reefs are being destroyed due to coral bleaching (USFWS/flickr)

Eden DeWald | August 6, 2018

This week’s segment explores efforts in Hawaii to grow corals resistant to bleaching.

Transcript:

Scientists are attempting to speed up evolution in an effort to save coral reefs.

This is the Iowa Environmental Focus.

Biologists at Gates Coral Lab at the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology are working on a way to cross-breed coral species that have resisted coral bleaching or persisted in spite of it. Coral bleaching, a phenomenon that has been slowly killing reefs for years, occurs when corals are stressed by environmental factors, such as pollution or extreme temperature changes.

The Biologists at Hawaii’s Coral Lab are trying to cross-breed resistant species of coral to create something like a super-coral—a variety of coral that can withstand these environmental stressors. This plan is sometimes referred to as assisted evolution, when scientists help speed up the process of evolution to yield stronger varieties of creatures.

Dr. Ruth Gates, director at the Hawaii Institute, isn’t sure if coral reefs would survive past 2050 without some assistance.

For more information, visit Iowa Environmental Focus dot org.

From the UI Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research, I’m Sara E. Mason.

On the Radio- Flooding in Polk County


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A view of downtown Des Moines (Jason M/flickr)

Eden DeWald | July 30, 2018

This week’s segment discusses the recent flooding in Polk County.

Transcript:

Flooding in Polk County has impacted over five thousand homes this summer.

This is the Iowa Environmental Focus.

A June 30 torrential rain storm brought unprecedented volumes of rain as high as nine inches primarily to Des Moines and surrounding areas, leaving residents displaced and sixteen million dollars in damage to public infrastructure, homes, and businesses.

Des Moines has set aside over eleven million dollars to buy out eighty of the most devastated homes, and is offering interest free loans to its residents for repairs.

And it’s not just the monetary damage. The floods resulted in at least one death when flash-flood waters swept away a sixty-five-year-old man trying to get to safety.

As reported by The Des Moines Register, some of the flood damage to homes and businesses was due in part to insufficient storm sewer systems.

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

From the UI Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research, I’m Sara E. Mason.