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National Security Implications of Climate Change for U.S. Naval Forces
operations and capabilities in the world’s oceans as a result of climate change; specifically, the technical underpinnings for projecting U.S. undersea dominance in light of the changing physical properties of the oceans.
This final report addresses both the near- and long-term implications for U.S. naval forces in each of the four areas of the TOR, and provides corresponding findings and recommendations.2,3 In an effort to identify areas that need action by U.S. naval leadership, this report and its findings and recommendations are organized around six discussion areas—all presented within the context of a changing climate.
Disputes over boundaries and exclusive economic zones as a result of new maritime transits and competition for new resources;
Strains on naval capabilities—given continuing first responder missions, and the opening of new international and territorial waters;
Vulnerabilities to naval coastal installations due to sea-level rise and increased storm surges;
Demands for establishing greater U.S., allied, and/or international maritime partnerships;
Impacts on the technical underpinnings that enable, in part, naval force capabilities, particularly those that operate and train in the Arctic; and
Investments for additional research and development that have implications for future naval operations and capabilities and might not be met by other groups pursuing climate-related research.
In total, the conclusions from this study can be viewed in the context of six areas for action by U.S. naval leadership. These conclusions, along with their corresponding major findings and recommendations, are presented below. The Summary’s findings and recommendations are not presented in priority order but highlight conclusions reached in the report. As a result, not all of the report’s findings and recommendations are included in this Summary. However, the committee points out that all of the report’s recommendations are important.4
The committee’s first report, a letter report, was delivered to the CNO in April 2010 (see Appendix D). The present report, the committee’s final report, accords with the findings and recommendations in the committee’s letter report and provides additional findings, recommendations, and analysis.
For the purposes of this report, in making recommendations for naval leadership actions, the term “immediate” is defined as requiring action now through the next Program Objective Memorandum (POM) cycle, in this case POM-14; “near term” as requiring close monitoring with action anticipated to be needed within the next 10 years; and “long term” as requiring monitoring with action anticipated to be needed within 10 to 20 years.
Based on the judgment of this committee and the best available data, and to help provide a more quantitative assessment for a range of uncertain possible outcomes, an outcome termed “likely” has at least a two-thirds chance of occurring, and an outcome termed “very likely” has at least a 90 percent chance.