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Iowa Lakes among colleges to sign climate statement

November 28, 2018
Amy H. Peterson - Staff Writer ( , Estherville News

By Amy H. Peterson

Staff Writer

Iowa Lakes Community College joined 36 other colleges across Iowa in its endorsement of the 2018 Iowa Climate Statement. The statement is written each year by a group of Iowa science faculty and researchers. This year, the statement focuses on increasing heat of heat waves and on the effect on buildings.

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"Buildings in Iowa must withstand a hotter, more humid climate, with more frequent and extreme rain storms and dry spells," Ulrike Passe, Associate Professor of Architecture and the Director f the Center for Building Energy Research at Iowa State University, said.

In 1991, climate scientists believed that climate change in the Midwest would lead to a warmer, wetter climate, including warmer winters and more rain in spring and early summer.

Currently, the group of climate scientists is projecting that by 2050, five-day heat wave temperatures in Iowa will increase by about 7 degrees Fahrenheit for the average year and by 13 degrees once per decade compared to heat waves in the late 20th century.

Currently, the Iowa average annual five-day maximum temperature during a heat wave is in the range of 90 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit.

The scientists also suggest the strongest rainfall events of the year (annual maximum daily widespread precipitation) covering areas as large as a third of Iowa are projected to double in intensity (daily toal rainfall) by 2050, with most of the change coming in the next seven years, by 2025.

"These are really scary numbers which will have negative consequences for the elderly, the economy, for corn and soybeans, as well as beef, hogs and poultry even under sheltered confinement. We must start now to adapt our built environment, including buildings and flood mitigation systems, to this changing climate," according to Jerry Schnoor, co-director, University of Iowa Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research.

Passe added, "Buildings can be designed to withstand heavier driving rain by integrating rain screens, larger gutters and downspouts, and steeper roof slopes. Water will also enter buildings from the foundation or basement walls. In particular, heavier rain events and higher water tables affect foundations, and standards going forward must reflect that."

For the hotter summers, Passe said, "Keeping building occupants comfortable during hot summer periods will require strategies including greater insulation of buildings, more controlled ventilation, planting of shade trees, and weatherizing buildings now to control air conditioning costs under the effects of a warmer climate."

The eighth annual statement, "Iowa Climate Statement 2018: Designing Buildings and Communities for Iowa's Future Climate," was signed by a record 201 science faculty and researchers from 37 Iowa colleges and universities. The statement describes the urgent need to fortify our building and public infrastructure from heat and precipitation.

More widespread extreme rainfall will also challenge Iowa community storm water control efforts. "Iowa communities would benefit from adopting localized plans that invest in smart runoff management to reduce the effects of flooding by infiltrating the rain where it falls and slowing the runoff from infrastructure. Green infrastructure like bioswales, rain gardens, urban forestry and permeable pavement can all reduce the impact of heavy rain downpours," Passe said.

"Ultimately, reducing carbon emissions remains the best long-term strategy to mitigate additional climate change damage, but adaptation now is necessary in today's changed climate. Changing our built environment to be more sustainable and resilient can help reduce future climate change while protecting us from the changes that have already occurred. The time to act is now," Schnoor said.

The complete statement is posted at



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