Farmers from all over the Midwest had the opportunity to ask questions of Elwynn Taylor, a long-respected ag climatologist at Iowa State University. Taylor explained weather trends at the Purdue Top Crop Farmer Workshop recently.
Here are questions from the farmer audience.
Question: What are the odds of a drought again next year?
TAYLOR: All we can do is look at soil moisture deficits now and how much recharge we need before next spring. In Iowa, at least, based on our expected average precipitation totals, it's likely soils may not be fully recharged by spring. Recharge typically begins with any rain that falls after Oct.1. Whenever we go into spring planting without soils fully recharged, chances for drought are higher.
(Editor's note: Iowa's soils are deeper, and require more recharge. Expected precipitation during winter months are lower than in the Eastern Corn Belt.)
Question: So is global warming real?
TAYLOR: There have been periods of warming before. Obviously there was an ice age, then it warmed up. What you're really asking is if global warming is real and caused by people.
What we can say is that people have caused some changes.
I can also tell you that when I was a young man carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere was lower than it is today. Burning fossil fuels is partly why it's changed. The fact that the carbon dioxide levels are higher today is a fact.