Climate Change Impacts and National Defense

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Naval Base Coronado, site of a pilot study of risk analysis and prioritization strategy being undertaken with SERDP funding.

Lead CCASS Contact: Gregg Garfin

The US Department of Defense has made a highly visible push to incorporate climate change adaptation into all aspects of their mission, from training and housing soldiers and their families, to protecting natural resources on their facilities, to geopolitical strategic planning.  The DoD was recently the first US agency to release a “Climate Change Road Map” outlining the Department’s concerns and plans for climate change adaptation.  Former Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel referred to climate change as a “threat multiplier,” echoing the consensus in the climate adaptation community that climate change is not so much of a new risk, but an enhancement and modification of existing risks faced by people and organizations.  CCASS and Institute of the Environment personnel were pleased to be part of DoD’s early efforts and climate adaptation planning with our recently completed Climate Change on Southwestern DoD Facilities project.

The U.S. Southwest presents an intensified suite of climate change impacts likely to be experienced by many DoD facilities.  In a project funded by the Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program (SERDP), UA researchers Gregg Garfin, Arin Haverland, and Kathy Jacobs engaged with DoD managers through interviews, workshops and case-study pilots across a range of DoD operations in the Southwest to develop robust approaches to climate change risk assessment, mitigation and adaptation, supported by a set of climate adaptation tools that can be used across DoD operations. The approach combined social and biophysical sciences to determine management needs and then develop tools to help DoD access the most relevant and current climate data available. The process also emphasized capacity building and network building to enable DoD personnel to assess new climate threats and make adaptive decisions.