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Climate Change in Iowa: How we got here, how we can choose a better future together

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The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has stated that human-caused warming of our climate is unequivocal. What does that mean for Iowa?

Climate change has brought more than just higher temperatures, but also a number of interrelated, seemingly contradictory outcomes, such as more extreme precipitation, more drought and (especially surprising) cooler summers.

William (Bill) Gutowski, climate scientist and professor in the Department of Geological and Atmospheric sciences, will explain why climate scientists should not just say what should be done, but instead work together with fellow community members to co-investigate and co-develop the knowledge about and actions for climate change. He will demonstrate how individuals who specialize in sociology, English, journalism, philosophy and other perhaps unexpected areas can help empower communities to take climate change actions that will be effective. Gutowski advocates that together, we can respond to expected climate change in a way that fits the concerns, motivations and, especially, the values of the communities that scientists interact with.

William Gutowski is a climate scientist who has worked in research and global leadership roles to understand regional climate processes and climate change information.  His modelling work has focused on the regional hydrological cycle, with a special emphasis extreme precipitation events, their physics, and their projected changes. A goal of the focus on extreme events has been to produce climate change information of relevance to society, because changes in extreme events are where much of the impacts of climate change will occur. Throughout his research and in roles with the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP), he has worked to foster an understanding of how to produce and communicate climate change information to stakeholders, engaging with diverse groups such as water managers and the farming community.

He is a lead author for the Working Group I report of the IPCC’s Sixth Assessment Report and Fifth Assessment Report. He was a contributing author for the Third and Fourth Assessment Reports, for which he and his collaborators were awarded a Nobel Peace Prize, jointly with Al Gore.  He was an editor of the Journal of Hydrometeorology for five years and is a fellow of the American Meteorological Society.

Dr. Gutowski received a B.S. (magna cum laude) in astronomy and physics from Yale University and a Ph.D. in meteorology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The LAS Dean’s Lecture highlights faculty excellence in learning, discovery and engagement. Each semester, the dean invites LAS faculty of distinction to present lectures from their own areas of expertise on topics of interest to the general public, designed to stimulate high-quality, intellectual discussion among faculty, staff, students and community members.