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Leaders say climate change is impacting Dubuque

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DUBUQUE, Iowa (KWWL) - As climate change continues to be a hot topic of discussion, Dubuque leaders are looking to adapt to new weather patterns.

In recent years, the city has seen changes to its climate in just about every season. Gina Bell, Sustainable Community Coordinator for the City of Dubuque, said most noticeably, there has been an increase in heavy rainfall during the spring and fall.

"We're seeing warmer, dryer summers and then increased precipitation in the fall and spring," said Bell. "And then more extreme weather in the winter. So it's not just the snow-pack that stay all winter, it's these big snowstorms and then no precipitation. And there's this volatility in the weather that we're seeing."

According to city documents, there has been about a 60 percent increase in heavy precipitation.

City of Dubuque Mayor, Roy Buol, said in his State of the City address that, according to the U.S. Global Change, by 2050 the average temperature will increase by about 11 degrees. We could expect to see about fifty more days of temperatures above 95 degrees; meaning extreme heatwaves could become more common.

"Flooding, more extreme weather, decreased air quality, increased mosquito and tick diseases, power grid failures, food insecurity, and even wildfires," said Buol.

Warmer weather could potentially increase the growing season by about fifty days. We could also see about thirty days with temperatures above 32 degrees.

While farmers may rejoice in a longer growing season, Bell said those benefits will likely not last in the long run.

"Some of the projections are talking about higher yields for agriculture, which is great," said Bell. "But that's sort of short-lived and in the long-term the yields will go down because of the heat, the crops won't be as acclimated."

The city is currently working to update its climate action plan. Their goal is to cut carbon emissions by 50 percent by the year 2030. However, there have not been any specific plans announced yet.

Since 1938, Dubuque has seen about a 60 percent increase in heavy precipitation and a two-degree increase in the annual average temperature.