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CCS Releases New Tool: Military Responses to Climate Hazards Tracker

By Tom Ellison and Erin Sikorsky

As temperatures continue to rise and drive extreme weather events that draw in militaries worldwide, the Center for Climate and Security (CCS) is launching a new effort to monitor military actions in response to climate hazards: the Military Responses to Climate Hazards (MiRCH) Tracker. Militaries are increasingly called upon to assist with wildfires, flood response, and other extreme weather events exacerbated by climate change. According to our tracker, since summer 2022, militaries in dozens of countries have responded nearly one hundred times to such hazards.

Ongoing climate change and weather patterns will only increase this demand, starting this summer with the expected arrival of the El Niño climate pattern, which scientists warn will result in significant temperature increases. This tracking effort will help analytic efforts to identify the temporal and geographic patterns in military deployments to climate hazards, the effectiveness of such deployments, and their implications for geopolitics, governance, and civil-military relations.

The tracker will be updated monthly. In addition to our own research at CCS, we are also calling for public input to identify incidents of military deployments in response to climate hazards. To do so, you can enter data into this Google Form. You can also download the up-to-date dataset on the MiRCH landing page.

Caveats: This project began as an informal tracking effort. The data is not comprehensive and relies heavily on English language press, and government social media posts. While we do not have confirmed climate change attribution for every hazard listed, authoritative climate science products such as the IPCC report indicate that events such as heatwaves, wildfires, floods, storms, and droughts are statistically more likely or intense in a warming world. 

Please cite this project as The Center for Climate and Security’s Military Responses to Climate Hazards (MiRCH) Tracker. 

Please direct media inquiries to Andrew Facini, CSR Communications Director

Defense Drones and Disasters in the News

US Navy drone assessing coastal damage800px-thumbnail

SOLOMON ISLANDS (April 17, 2007) – A Scan Eagle drone launched from USNS Stockham to assess coastal damage to outlying islands from an April 2 earthquake and tsunami.

By Christine Parthemore, Executive Director, The Center for Climate and Security

Late last week USA Today and Military Times reported that the Department of Defense (DoD) has used surveillance drones within U.S. borders in recent years. The Pentagon provided further detail to assure the public that most instances were in support of civil authorities as part of disaster response exercises or real-time operations, including the 2013 California wildfires and 2015-16 Mississippi and South Carolina floods.

Knowing the sensitivities involved with unmanned defense surveillance systems operating in American skies, DoD has launched a website highlighting the process by which these military assets can legally be called to assist in responding to domestic natural disasters, which climate experts expect to grow more frequent and intense across the United States. (more…)

Polar Vortex: Preparedness Not Finger-Pointing

800px-PolarvortexwinterThere has been a lot of discussion about the recent polar vortex that swept through most of the United States. A fair amount of this discussion has been a somewhat “heated” conversation about what it means for climate change. In fact, this is the same discussion the country has during almost every major weather event. (more…)

New CNAS report: “Using Space Technologies for Disaster Response”

Will Rogers at the Center for a New American Security has recently published an interesting policy brief titled “Sentries in the Sky: Using Space Technologies for Disaster Response.” The piece makes a strong case for continuing to support these technologies for disaster response, which will incidentally have national security, environmental and climate co-benefits.  On page four, Will discusses the utility of “altimetry sensors” in assessing sea level rise, which can be a factor in both sudden-onset disasters (such as tsunamis) and slow-onset disasters (such as coral bleaching and salination of water and soils). As Rogers states, data from these sensors “help scientists detect changes in sea level, which can be input into advanced models for everything from forecasting weather to projecting rises in sea level resulting from climate change.” Here’s an excerpt from this section of the brief: (more…)

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