engaged with and to help lead these advances, within the broader context of the DOD’s responsibility to assess the effects of climate change on all DOD missions, capabilities, and facilities. The Navy brings significant historical experience and unique capabilities to this arena, and the committee views these assets and related advances as supporting the national security interests of the United States.

This committee has found in the assessments it has studied strong scientific evidence to support naval leadership’s continuing to study and act on the implications of climate change and how they will affect naval missions and capabilities. Some areas of current scientific knowledge of climate change, however, lack the near-term specificity that the Navy may need for planning purposes. These areas include, for example, the rate of future sea-level rise, the exact timing of an ice-free Arctic, and reliable predictions of regional climate (given the current inability to project specific regional impacts). Considering it unlikely that very precise projections of climate change will be available over the next few years, this committee believes that the Navy should adopt a risk management approach to addressing these issues. Such an approach should include a range of contingency plans for the potential sudden onset of climate-induced severe-weather disasters.


The committee focused its initial assessments either on climate change issues that it believes will have the greatest effects on naval forces or on issues that may require immediate planning. The committee views global climate change as a long-term issue that will play out over the next several decades. However, because of the long lead times in developing and changing naval capabilities and because of the potential for global climate change to have a significant impact on future naval missions, near-term awareness, planning, and decisions are needed by the U.S. Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard.

The following sections of this report, in which appropriate supporting data are provided, present the committee’s findings and recommendations, at this stage of the study, under the following four key topics, which are embedded in the terms of reference: (1) naval capabilities and potential climate-changerelated operational issues globally, together with the closely related matter of the role of allied partnerships in regard to such global operational issues; (2) climate change impacts on global naval installations; (3) naval capabilities and potential climate-change-related operational issues in the Arctic; and (4) climate-change-related technical issues impacting naval operations, particularly in the Arctic.

Naval Capabilities and Potential Climate-Change-Related Operational Issues Globally

Naval Forces Responses in Future Climate-Change-Related Events

There are numerous peer-reviewed projections of increasing global stress arising from the effects of climate change as well as from the combined effects of climate change and other global trends, such as projected global population growth.6 Current climate-change-related projections found in recent peer-

be unavailable in the civilian sector. See National Research Council, 2009, Scientific Value of Arctic Sea Ice Data, The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C. In another example, SCICEX (Scientific Ice Expeditions) was a 5-year program in which the Navy made available a Sturgeon-class, nuclear-powered attack submarine for unclassified science expeditions to the Arctic Ocean to gather ice-thickness measurements. Additional information on SCICEX is available at http://www.Ideo.columbia.edu/res/pi/SCICEX/. Accessed November, 24, 2009.


In many regions of the world, the impact of climate change is likely to further exacerbate the preexisting stress on water supplies and the mounting pressures of population growth. For example, Columbia University’s Center for International Earth Science Information Network has compiled information from IPCC assessments, the 2005 World Bank report Natural Disaster Hotspots: A Global Risk Analysis, and CIESIN’s gridded world population data sets to present a projected geographic distribution of vulnerability in 2050. In presentations to the committee, CIESIN representatives reported that global population nearly doubled from 1968 through 2008, and that by 2048 it could

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