Experts Discuss Impacts of Extreme Weather in Iowa

By Justin Gehrts, Meteorologist


By Aaron Hepker

DES MOINES, Iowa - This bitter cold, floods and droughts are becoming more common in Iowa. Climate change may be a big reason why. The University of Iowa's Public Policy Center held a symposium in Des Moines to talk about those potential impacts for Iowa.

Much of the day's focus was on the impacts of rainfall and flooding.

Chris Anderson, the assistant director of Iowa State's climate science program, discussed rainfall trends. Before 1980, having a "very wet" year happened once every 12 years. Now, it occurs in one out of three years.

Simulations showed that the number of very wet years will increase, causing more erosion problems and other agricultural issues. Anderson also pointed out that, because one extreme is more likely, the odds of having back-to-back extremes is also more likely, which we saw the past two summers.

Other presentations touched on the survival of pheasant hens in winter, fishery and state park impacts, and challenges for the quality of drinking water.

Some communities are tackling problems that come from extreme weather. Watershed districts in northern Iowa have installed ponds that have significantly lowered stream flow after heavy rain, reducing erosion and flooding. Charles City has a water retention system that keeps rainfalls of less than three inches from entering the Cedar River - helping all who live downstream.

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