A native of the “Show-Me State” is Iowa’s new state climatologist.
Justin Glisan grew up in Saint Charles, Missouri and says his interest in climate science started at an early age – with a little lecture from his father.
“I was scared to death of severe weather and we had a bout of really bad storms when I was four or five,” Glisan said. “My father took me aside and said, ‘you either learn all you can about weather and climate or you’re just going to be scared the rest of your life.'”
The 35-year-old Glisan has learned a lot about weather. He earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in atmospheric science at the University of Missouri and a PhD at Iowa State University in 2012. Since then, he’s worked as a researcher at ISU.
Glisan is now Iowa’s third state climatologist. He replaces Harry Hillaker, who recently retired after three decades in the position. Glisan is hoping to hold the job for a similar amount of time.
“Climatology is the study of, you know, a long time period. A climatological decade is 30 years, so I hope to be here a climatological decade or maybe a little more than that,” Glisan said. The state climatologist monitors weather activity to compile weekly, monthly, and annual reports about precipitation totals, shifts in temperatures, and other climate-related data.
According to Glisan, Iowa is one of the more exciting places in the country to monitor changes in the climate. “We’re right in the middle of the country. The moisture gate is the Gulf of Mexico. We get cold air from the high latitudes…flowing off the west coast monsoons in Arizona – all that kind of stuff. So, yeah, we’re in a very interesting part of the country,” Glisan said.
The state climatologist’s office is part of the Iowa Department of Agriculture. Glisan lives in Des Moines with his wife, Maggie, who is Senior Food Editor for Better Homes and Gardens magazine.