Symposium on extreme weather in Iowa

Tyler Chalfant | September 12th, 2019

The UI Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research, the UI Center for the Health Effects of Environmental Contamination and UI Public Policy Center will host a symposium on extreme weather in Iowa. The event, “Extreme Weather in Iowa: Paths to Equitable Response, Recovery, and Resilience,” will be held in the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines on Wednesday, October 2nd from 9:30 p.m. to 4:30 a.m.

The goal of the symposium is to bring together constituencies affected by extreme weather events in Iowa. Researchers, policy makers, and emergency responders will get together to discuss prevention, monitoring, response, and long-term recovery. The event will feature panels on the increase of heat and flooding, with an embedded theme of addressing equity in ensuring all Iowans are prepared and able to recover from natural disasters There will also be a panel of state-level policymakers and a keynote address from Eric Tate, a University of Iowa professor of Geographical and Sustainability Services. 

The Public Policy Center is an interdisciplinary research center focused on conducting research and informing policymakers and the public on a variety of issues affecting Iowan communities. Since 2008, the Forkenbrock Series on Public Policy has sponsored symposiums and lectures on the most pressing issues of our time as a part of the Center’s engagement mission. 

To register for the symposium, click here. The fee is $25, or $10 for students showing valid university I.D.

Iowa flooding will become more frequent and severe

Flood 2008
Photo of 2008 flood by Jon Fravel, Flickr

Tyler Chalfant | September 10th, 2019

Iowans across the state experienced severe flooding this year, and according to a report released Thursday by the Iowa Policy Project, flooding events like those of 2019 will likely become more frequent and severe as the climate changes. While temperatures and precipitation have been shown to be rising, flooding patterns are harder to predict, but this year’s “100-year flood” seems to be the fourth flooding event of its kind in only 30 years, following severe floods in 1993, 2008, and 2011.

Both the Mississippi and Missouri River Basins flooded this year, with the Mississippi breaching a levee in Davenport, and the Missouri breaching every levee south of Council Bluffs on the western side of the state. In addition to the damage caused to flooded roads, homes, and businesses, these floods have harmed agriculture. Farmers were forced by flooded fields to plant late or not at all this year. The floods spoiled stored crops, caused the deaths of livestock, and damaged farm infrastructure. Flooding and extreme heat also pose a threat to human health through contaminated water supplies, the spread of disease-carrying insects, and harm to mental health. 

The period from May 2018 to April 2019 set new records for precipitation in the Midwest, with Iowa exceeding the regional average with over 50 inches. Since the 1970s, Iowa’s average annual rainfall has been rising by 1.25 inches per decade – the highest rate of any state in the country – and snowfall this February reached three and a half times the recent average. Springtime rainfall in the upper Mississippi is projected to increase 20 to 40 percent. The report also covered temperature increases, which are projected to be the highest in the Midwest during the warm season. 

Report: Iowa lags in green transportation

Source: Smart Growth America

Transportation is the second largest and fastest-growing source of carbon, and Iowa lags behind most states in enacting policies that could save money and cut pollution, a new report from Smart Growth America has found.

The report ranked Iowa’s infrastructure policies just 40th nationwide, citing progress in just two of eight categories – bike/pedestrian master plans and pay-as-you-drive insurance.  Continue reading