How climate change is shaping Iowa’s physical and political landscape

While many farmers here pin the blame on the Army Corps of Engineers’ flood management and hang their hopes on a weather cycle that will come to an end, experts say those who work in agriculture need to prepare for climate change because they will be some of the first affected.

Farmers should expect wetter springs, delays in the growing season, changes in crops that can be planted, crop yields and flooding during harvest. The Midwest can expect to see more flooding, as well, said Bryan Peake, a climatologist at the Midwestern Regional Climate Center.

Many of these changes could occur within the next 30 to 40 years, Peake said.

He also noted that farmers aren’t entirely wrong about the Army Corps of Engineers not managing the water correctly, but he explained that it is because the Corps has not changed its standards to account for the added precipitation from climate change.

“We’re talking about updating and getting a better understanding of what probable flood levels would be rather than the current 100-year or 1,000-year flood,” Peake said. “Really it’s a probability of that happening any given year. We need to update those standards to more current precipitation levels to better understand how to build infrastructure.”

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