Iowans Should Brace for Heat, Humidity and Weather Extremes
DES MOINES, Iowa – Hotter temperatures, more rainfall, higher humidity and greater weather extremes are what's ahead for Iowa, according to new climate projections available from the Climate Science Special Report. The data was gathered for the fourth annual National Climate Assessment.
Gene Takle is an Iowa State emeritus professor of agronomy who helped prepare Iowa's information. He says projections show that Iowa's annual five-day heat-wave temperatures each summer - currently 90 to 95 degrees - will be much higher by 2050.
"The maximum temperature for that five-day period is likely to go up by 13 degrees Fahrenheit by mid-century, from what it was at the end of the 20th century."
Takle says in 30 years, Iowans also can expect temperatures to climb as high as 108 degrees about once every decade. He also says that they should also expect these recent extreme weather events to continue - including flooding in normally dry seasons and heavy rainfall that causes flooding.
He adds that a huge change in Iowa's weather has been a big jump in humidity levels.
"Part of the discomfort that we feel today is just because it's higher humidity, even though in many cases the temperature is less than it was back in the '50s or '60s," he says.
To successfully deal with hotter summers, Takle believes Iowa residents will need to reduce energy use by driving less, purchasing more energy-efficient appliances and planting more trees.
Climate change has been a double-edged sword for Iowa farmers, according to Takle, who says it has extended the growing season for corn by three weeks in the past 50 years, but the increased humidity makes it more difficult to store the corn properly.
"The higher humidity that leads to the growth of mold, and aflatoxin and so on - it's promoting more deterioration of the grain quality, and that's something that just wasn't a factor a few decades ago," he explains.
Takle points out that recent Iowa storms that saw eight inches of rain in a 24-hour period were non-existent 100 years ago when even a four-inch rainfall was rare in Iowa.