SERDP researchers are developing decision frameworks to improve the ability of the Department of Defense (DoD) to assess the potential impacts of climate change on military installations and facilitate appropriate adaptive responses. Despite advances in the state of the science, tools and guidance on how to use appropriate climate-related data generally are lacking. DoD managers will need to assess potential impacts and appropriate actions to take in areas such as fire management, sustainability of water supplies, and military training and range operations. Enhanced decision making that better matches the decision to relevant climate information will reduce climate change vulnerabilities and increase resilience at military installations.

The five SERDP decision framework pilot projects initiated in FY 2012 will enhance DoD’s decision making with respect to potential climate change-related impacts to its installations, including built infrastructure, natural infrastructure, and training ranges, and appropriate planning and adaptive responses. The key question the pilot projects are addressing is: What is an appropriate framework for assessing vulnerabilities and impacts and guiding adaptation decisions to account for uncertainty, avoid maladaptive decisions, avoid over-committing resources, and be robust over time to a range of plausible future scenarios?

With work spanning multiple regions and installations across the United States, the ongoing research to develop climate change decision frameworks and tools includes:

  • identifying mission-relevant and asset management decisions and the sensitivity of those decisions to climate
  • evaluating how decision makers at the installation level use climate information and what additional information would be useful for guiding future decisions
  • engaging DoD managers and stakeholders in the development of a vulnerability and impact assessment framework
  • analyzing the utility of and uncertainty associated with downscaling regional climate projections for decision makers to quantify and plan for the impacts at specific locations
  • investigating the use of a high-resolution regional atmospheric model to simulate extreme weather events and evaluate changes in severe storm frequency and intensity in the Southwest.

SERDP convened a meeting of these researchers, as well as DoD policy makers and analysts, to promote coordination in the development of decision support approaches and to improve awareness of DoD decision making processes and concerns regarding climate change vulnerabilities. Participants discussed strategies for incorporating climate change-related policy and guidance across DoD and the military Services, as well as the linkages between installation-level and higher level DoD and military Service decisions related to climate change. 

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