Group of Iowa scientists release annual climate statement, focused on trees

Published: Oct. 5, 2022 at 5:05 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

IOWA CITY, Iowa (KCRG) - Over 200 scientists at colleges and universities around Iowa signed a statement about climate change, emphasizing the importance of maintaining a healthy tree population in the state.

The 2022 edition of the Iowa Climate Statement, released by the University of Iowa Center for Global & Regional Environmental Research, highlighted the potential for the state to see hotter days more often, based on information from the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s modeling and projections. The scientists focused on the need for correct planting strategies for new trees, and care for those trees in a changing climate.

“Attention to the species of trees we plant and their care will be crucial for their survival. Strategies are needed both to sustain the many benefits of existing large mature trees and to increase planting of appropriate new trees for mitigating and adapting to climate change,” Jan Thompson, professor in the Natural Resource Ecology and Management department at Iowa State University, said, in a statement.

Thompson noted that studies have shown that well-placed trees on a homeowner’s property, using as few as three trees, can lead to energy savings between $100 and $250 per year. These reduced energy costs would also result in lower carbon dioxide emissions, as long as energy producers continue to use fossil fuel sources.

The statement said that increased tree planting in urban areas could help reduce the “urban heat island” effect, when areas closer to the center of cities are hotter during the day and retain heat longer into the night. In addition, the researchers highlighted the ability for trees to control rainfall runoff, improvement of soil quality, and other ecological benefits, saying that those benefits “are greater than the costs of planting and maintaining street and park trees.”

The authors noted the need to select proper tree species for planting, increased awareness in identifying signs of heat stress to trees during hotter and drier periods, and strategies to combat increased pests and diseases that can damage trees.

The statement was authored by scientists from the University of Iowa, Iowa State University, and Drake University. 203 total people from various departments at 33 colleges and universities in the state signed the letter.

The full statement is available on the organization’s website.