How much has the climate changed in Iowa over recent decades? What are the impacts on the State’s agriculture, water resources, wildlife, public health and the economy? These questions served as the impetus for a new report released this month, requested by the Iowa Legislature, and produced by a small group of faculty and staff working together from the regents’ institutions in Iowa.
Gene Takle, a professor of atmospheric science at Iowa State University, analyzed the primary data and found that today’s Iowans are experiencing a wetter, milder climate. We are living with more temperate winters, a longer growing season, warmer summer nights, increased humidity, greater precipitation (especially in April-July), and more intense rainfall events.
On the heels of the release of their report to the governor on how climate change affects Iowans, Laura Jackson, Jerry Schnoor and Gene Takle penned a great column in today’s Des Moines Register summarizing their findings and calling for Iowans to act on climate change. Check it out.
Topics in the report include: the impact of climate change on agriculture, flora and fauna, public health, economy, infrastructure and emergency services. And it includes a list of policy recommendations to address the consequences of climate change. Continue reading →
Gene Takle, an ISU professor of geological and atmospheric science, said it appears turbines may help crops grow healthier and faster by moderating ground level temperatures, blowing away fungi-producing moisture and churning the air to expose plants to more growth-promoting carbon dioxide.
Takle presented the findings last week at a meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco.
“This is an issue no one has raised before,” said Takle. “When people do impacts of wind turbines, they think about four things. They think about birds, bats, noise and radar interference. They really don’t consider impacts on the environment.”
But Takle and University of Colorado researcher Julie Lundquist did just that. Continue reading →
Check out the Des Moines Register’s online coverage of climate change in Iowa. The Register’s research looks at the future impact on communities, weather and agriculture across the state. Here are some of the findings that the infographic showcases:
By the year 2090, a major flood could happen every ten years, according to projections from the National Wildlife Federation.
Crop productivity could decrease because of severe storms, floods and high heat.
The average annual temperature in Iowa could increase more than the global average during the next 90 years…
The Register’s findings are based on the research of Iowa State University Professor Gene Takle and other researchers contributing to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s 2007 report as well as other reports.
Take a look at this piece in yesterday’s Mason City Globe-Gazette about the fascinating, and perhaps startling, discussion at a key meeting of Iowa’s Climate Change Advisory Council.
We’ll have much more on these topics once the council releases its report to the governor.
Here’s a snippet from the article:
WINDSOR HEIGHTS – It’s not the averages, but the extremes that should motivate Iowans, especially elected leaders, to factor climate change into their decision-making, according to a panel that has been studying its impact on Iowa for nearly two years.
In biological systems, such as agriculture, “outcomes are defined by the extremes, not the averages,” Iowa State University Professor Richard Cruse told the Iowa Climate Change Advisory Council (ICCAC) on Monday.
And the number of extreme weather events – five-inch rainfalls, for example, is growing faster than the increase in average precipitation, fellow ISU Professor Gene Takle added.
Those conditions may produce some short-term yield gains for corn and soybean producers. However, the effect of cooler daytime temperatures, higher nighttime temperature and higher dew points – all of which Takle said are amply documented – are likely to affect all aspects of crop production from tillage and planting to crop choices as well as construction standards for farm-to-market roads, Cruse and Takle told their fellow panel members….
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 EnvironmentalFocus.org I’m Jerry Schnoor, from the University of Iowa’s Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research.
In case you missed it last Sunday, the Cedar Rapids Gazette gave a huge front-page spread to a piece that lays out some sobering data on Iowa’s recent trends in precipitation – much of it supplied by CGRER’s own Gene Takle at Iowa State.
Here’s a rundown of some of those key stats, as cited by the article:
The past three years have been the wettest 36 month period in the 138 years that Iowa has been keeping records. We beat the old record, set between 1990-1993, by about 10 inches of precipitation.
2007 was the state’s fifth-wettest year; 2008, the fourth wettest; 2009 was the 11th wettest; and 2010 is on track to become the second-wettest year in state history.
From 1875 to 1950, Iowa had only two years with more than 40 inches of precipitation. Since 1950, the state has recorded eight such years, and this year likely will be the ninth.
Since 1910, days with more than 4 inches of precipitation have increased 50 percent in the Upper Midwest
During the late 1800s, Cedar Rapids averaged 4.2 days a year with precipitation of 1.25 inches or more – the amount at which runoff to streams typically becomes significant. By 2008, that figure had risen to 6.6 days per year, a 57 percent increase.
We also know that flooding in Ames and other areas in Iowa were worse this year than in the epically soggy 1993. And June 2010 was the second wettest month in state history.