DES MOINES (AP) — This year’s drought is consistent with predictions that global climate change would bring about weather extremes, including more frequent droughts, said a report released Monday.
The Iowa Climate Statement updates the 2010 report, reflecting the year’s lingering drought and the belief that it signifies what many scientists have predicted: that increasing instability in weather patterns will lead to extremes during both wet and dry years.
Iowa has experienced such extremes in recent years. In 2008, flooding caused an estimated $10 billion in damage, making it the worst disaster in the state’s history.
More broadly, this year’s drought brought about parched croplands, reducing corn yields across the nation’s Grain Belt. And last month’s superstorm Sandy devastated parts of the Eastern Seaboard.
The report was signed by 138 scientists and researchers from 27 Iowa colleges and universities. They said they wanted to release the updated report now, while the drought is still fresh in the public’s mind.
“The drought is sort of a teachable moment,” said Jerry Schnoor, co-director of the Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research at the University of Iowa.
The scientists are careful to avoid saying any single extreme weather incident is directly caused by global warming, saying too many factors are at play when it comes to weather.
Patrick Michaels, director of the Center for the Study of Science at the Washington-based conservative think tank Cato Institute, said there’s no evidence global warming contributed to this summer’s drought. He doesn’t deny that global warming is real and that man-made pollutants may contribute to it, but he says it has a very small impact overall.
The Iowa scientists said their statement is not one of gloom and doom, but is meant to indicate investments can be made now to slow the economic impact of weather extremes.