Sunday, November 11, 2007

Iowa should not be complacent; global warming will strike here

Des Moines Register, two scientists respond to an editorial: Richard Doak's Oct. 28 column, "Show a Little Respect, Iowa: Take Care of a Gift - the Water," made a point that Iowa should better protect its waterways, especially as many other places will suffer water shortages as the effects of global warming become more pronounced. But his column understated the findings of a Union of Concerned Scientists report, "Climate Change in the Hawkeye State: Impacts on Iowa Communities and Ecosystems." As two of the original scientist-authors on the report, we'd like to clarify that the analysis found that, in fact, there's plenty to worry about in Iowa when it comes to water.

While annual precipitation may not change much, more rain is likely in the winter and spring and less in the summer. Dry spells during the hot summer months are likely to become longer, which could lead to more droughts. When rain does fall, it will likely come in intense downpours, increasing the risk of flooding. If preventive measures aren't implemented, increased flooding could delay spring planting and could worsen soil erosion and the runoff of agricultural chemicals and animal waste into the water supply.

These are just some of the climate-change consequences likely to occur in Iowa, effects that become more likely and costly the longer we allow heat-trapping emissions to continue unabated.

- Susanne Moser, research scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research,
Boulder, Colo.

- Katharine Hayhoe, research associate professor, Department of Geosciences,
Texas Tech University, Lubbock, Texas.

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