The effects of the changing climate can readily be seen on the farm, the report says, including:
>> The growing season is longer, so farmers are planting corn and soybeans earlier; however, heavier rains are falling earlier in the year, affecting the ability of farmers to get into their fields to plant.
>> Heavier rainfall has prompted farmers to install more drainage tiles to drain water away from fields; larger combine heads are needed to facilitate harvest since there are fewer hours without dew.
Among the findings cited in this report:
>> Precipitation has increased 31 percent in Iowa and the Upper Midwest in the past 50 years. Most of the precipitation increase has come in the first half of the year, leading to wetter springs and drier autumns. Precipitation has increased more in eastern Iowa than in the western half of the state.
>> Summer rains have been more intense, leading to greater runoff, soil erosion and water pollution.
>> Yearlong average temperature has increased modestly, but winter temperatures have increased six times more than summer.
>> Winter days are warming, while the number of summer days with extreme high temperatures is declining.
>> Summers are becoming more humid. The amount of moisture in the atmosphere over the past 35 years has risen by about 13 percent. Humidity suppresses spikes in temperature and fuels the strong thunderstorms that produce heavy rains.
The Climate Change Impacts 2010 report provides a modest framework for addressing the consequences of climate change without tackling the polarizing question of whether humans are at fault.
“The surprise is that we already are living with climate change and that most Iowans, and I would daresay most Midwesterners, don’t realize that,” said Jerry Schnoor, a University of Iowa professor who was on the committee that prepared the report.
Schnoor is co-director of the Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research.
“Our state has been pounded by climate disasters, one after the other for the past 20 years. It’s something we need to take seriously,” said State Sen. Robert Hogg of Cedar Rapids, who was among the legislators pushing for the report.
Hogg said the substantial flooding in Cedar Rapids in 2008 gave him a “dose of reality that most of the people who debate it don’t have.”
“A person is foolish to disregard that kind of risk, and people, regardless of political persuasion, have got to take hazard mitigation seriously,” he said.
The report examined peer-reviewed studies to develop its assessment of climate change in the state, Schnoor said.
Those contributing to the report came from faculty and staff at Iowa State University, the University of Iowa and the University of Northern Iowa. The report was coordinated by the Iowa Office of Energy Independence and was sent to the governor and Legislature this week.
Notesscience report available athttp://www.iowadnr.gov/iccac/index.html and www.iowadnr.gov/iccac/files/completereport.pdf
The source article A warmer and wetter Iowa? was published January 5, 2011 by Omaha World Herald .