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Biome Shifts Due to Climate Change Creates Increased Vulnerabilities for Military Installations

Tyndall Air Force Base Grounds Depicting Damage from Hurricane Michael, the Center for Climate and Security, April 30, 2019

By Dr. Marc Kodack

Supporting sustainable range management and training activities on military installations will be challenged by climate change, both in the near term and many years into the future. Odom and Ford (2020) modelled possible changes to biomes located on military lands from climate change to assess installation vulnerability to these shifts. Based on their modelling they found that the Northeast, the Great Lakes states, and western Great Plains will have the largest increases in temperature. These increased temperatures may adversely affect both forest and grasslands which are managed by installations to support training and natural resource management requirements, e.g., Clean Water Act; Endangered Species Act; Sikes Act. Adverse effects may include changed disturbance patterns–e.g., increased erosion in areas where heavy tactical vehicles are used in the winter when less snow occurs– as well as heat, and water stress to natural communities which, in turn, can disrupt scheduled training activities. The modelling results also forecast increased rainfall for the Northeast and Great Lakes. Disruptions to training may affect readiness of both personnel and equipment. These disruptions may then affect planned deployments.


Air Force Chief of Staff: Military Often Has to Respond to the Effects of Climate Change

General Goldfein and Secretary Wilson_2019_04_04

Secretary Wilson and General Goldfein discuss climate change before the Senate Armed Services Committee, April 4, 2019

Yesterday, on the heels of a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on climate change and national security, the Chief of Staff of the U.S. Air Force, General David L. Goldfein, and the outgoing Secretary of the Air Force, the Honorable Heather A. Wilson, spoke about the security implications of climate change during a posture hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee. In response to a question about the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff’s previous comments on the subject, General Goldfein highlighted the connection between climate change, extreme drought and the start of the Syrian civil war (an issue we first wrote about in 2012), and stated: “what Chairman Dunford was talking about was that we have to respond militarily very often to the effects, globally, of climate change.” Secretary Wilson also spoke about the importance of climate resilience at Air Force bases, as articulated in the Air Force’s recent infrastructure investment strategy, noting “We don’t leave our bases to fight. We fight from our bases. And so their resilience is very important.” (more…)

From the West Coast to Asia: Climate Risk, the U.S. Military, and the Asia-Pacific Region

San Diego_7553By Shiloh Fetzek, Senior Fellow for International Affairs

The Center for Climate and Security recently held a one-day event in San Diego to discuss climate change and security issues as they affect the Pacific coast. Pacific-facing military installations and communities confront a unique set of climate risks and resilience issues. Geostrategic dynamics around expanding US defense posture in the Asia-Pacific also have implications for local planning and infrastructure (e.g. housing and transportation). The missions which these installations support may be influenced by climate-related factors, including fragility risk and demand for humanitarian assistance and disaster response in the Asia-Pacific. At the same time, climate stressors in the Southwest such as drought, wildfires, storms and sea level rise impact area installations and have a bearing on military readiness and operational capabilities. (more…)

Weather Channel: 13 years of military planning for sea level rise

800px-Navy Norfolk Virginia

USS Harry S. Truman, Norfolk Naval Shipyard, VA. (U.S. Navy photo, Mass Comm Specialist 3rd Class Tyler Folnsbee)

Center for Climate and Security Advisory Board member, Brigadier General Gerald Galloway, U.S. Army (ret), recently spoke to the Weather Channel about sea level rise risks to military installations along the U.S. coast. When asked where the Department of Defense (DoD) was in its planning for sea level rise (compared to other communities along the coast), General Galloway noted that it has been doing so since the G.W. Bush Administration, and that military bases and their surrounding support communities must build resilience to sea level rise risks in tandem. From the interview: (more…)

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