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Climate Change

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What is Climate Change?

Climate Change refers to any significant change in the measures of climate lasting for an extended period of time. This includes major changes in temperature, precipitation, wind patterns, or other effects that occur several decades or longer.

How is Climate Change Affecting Iowa?

Iowa is already experiencing the effects of climate change. The Iowa Climate Change Impacts Committee's Report to the Governor and the Iowa General Assembly highlights the effects listed below. The Committee was established in 2009 by Iowa Code section 473.7 and was tasked with reviewing climate change impacts and policies for Iowa. The Committee is no longer active. EPA also identifies climate changes specific to the nation and the Midwest.

Among the climate changes Iowa is already experiencing are:

Increased Precipitation
  • Increased frequency of precipitation extremes that lead to flooding.
  • Increase of 8 percent more precipitation from 1873 to 2008.
  • A larger increase in precipitation in eastern Iowa than in western Iowa.
Higher Temperatures
  • Long-term winter temperatures have increased six times more than summer temperatures.
  • Nighttime temperatures have increased more than daytime temperatures since 1970.
  • Iowa’s humidity has risen substantially, especially in summer, which now has 13 percent more atmospheric moisture than 35 years ago as indicated by a 3 - 5 degree F rise in dew-point temperature. This fuels convective thunderstorms that provide more summer precipitation.
Agricultural Challenges
  • Climate extremes, not averages, have the greater impact on crop and livestock productivity.
  • Increased soil erosion and water runoff.
  • Increased challenges associated with manure applications.
  • Favorable conditions for survival and spread of many unwanted pests and pathogens.
Habitat Changes
  • Plants are leafing out and flowering sooner.
  • Birds are arriving earlier in the spring.
  • Particular animals are now being sighted farther north than in the past.
Public Health Effects
  • Increases in heart and lung programs from increasing air pollutants of ozone and fine particles enhanced by higher temperatures.
  • Increases in infectious diseases transmitted by insects that require a warmer, wetter climate.
  • An increase prevalence of asthma and allergies.

Iowa Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Each year the Iowa DNR estimates greenhouse emissions in Iowa from sources such as agriculture, electricity production, fossil fuel combustion, industrial processes, transportation, and waste. Greenhouse gas emissions data is available for 1990, 2000, and 2005-2013. The largest industrial emitters of greenhouse gas emissions are also required to report their greenhouse gas emissions to the federal Greenhouse Gas Reporting program.

Iowa Climate Change Advisory Council

Established by Iowa Code section 455B.851 in 2007, the Iowa Climate Change Advisory Council was responsible for providing policy options for reducing statewide greenhouse gases, while also considering the cost-effectiveness of different scenarios. As part of the 2010 State Government Reorganization (Senate File 2088), the Council was discontinued on July 1, 2011.

The Council's final report was finished December 23, 2008 and presents two scenarios designed to reduce statewide greenhouse gas emissions by 50% and 90% from a 2005 baseline by the year 2050.

Where Can I Find More Information on Climate Change?

  • Household Carbon Footprint Calculator - Do you know what your carbon footprint is? Try EPA's Household Carbon Footprint Calculator to estimate your annual greenhouse gas emissions.
  • EPA Climate Change - EPA's climate change page is a large repository of climate change information including basic information, climate science; state, national, and global greenhouse gas emissions; what EPA is doing to fight climate change; what citizens can do to fight climate change; indicators and impacts of climate change, etc.
  • The Climate Registry - The Climate Registry is a policy-neutral nonprofit organization that provides meaningful information to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The Climate Registry establishes consistent, transparent standards throughout North America for businesses and governments to voluntarily calculate, verify, and publicly report their carbon footprints in a single, unified registry.
  • ENERGY STAR - ENERGY STAR is a voluntary U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) program that delivers environmental benefits and financial value through superior energy efficiency. By certifying top-performing products, homes, and buildings, ENERGY STAR helps us all make energy-efficient choices.
  • Local Government Climate and Energy Strategy Series - The Local Government Climate and Energy Strategy Series gives a straightforward overview of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction strategies that local governments can use to achieve economic, environmental, social, and human health benefits. The series covers energy efficiency, transportation, community planning and design, solid waste and materials management, and renewable energy. The series is designed for policy makers and program, such as mayors, city or town council members, energy managers, city planners, metropolitan and regional planning organizations, and their private and nonprofit partners.
  • 53 Sources for Climate Change News - This site hosted by George Washington University's Milken Institute School of Public Health shares 53 reputable outlets that provide breaking news, research, and expert analysis related to climate change.
  • A Clinician's Role in Climate Change Awareness. - The resource from Simmons University reviews the impacts of climate change on health, from respiratory implications to weather-related injury and illness. Also discussed is how providers can become more involved in raising awareness of public health conditions due to climate change.