A Methodology for Assessing the Impact of Sea Level Rise on Representative Military Installations in the Southwestern United States
Climate change has potential ramifications for national security as recognized in recent legislation that directs the Department of Defense (DoD) to provide guidance to military planners to assess the risks of potential climate change. In addition, a recent study directed by a board of senior retired military officers recommended that DoD conduct assessments of the impact on U.S. military installations of rising sea levels, extreme weather events, and other projected climate change impacts over the next 30 to 40 years. These concerns are reinforced by the recent projections from the fourth assessment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Observations indicate that global average sea level rose at an average rate of 1.8 mm/year from 1961-2003, with the rate increasing over the period 1993-2003 to about 3.1 mm/year, and that the average rate increased from the 19th to the 20th century. Accelerated rates of sea level rise (SLR) and associated phenomena contributing to potential impacts in the 21st century could lead to installation vulnerabilities, including loss/damage to mission essential infrastructure; loss/degradation of mission capabilities; loss of training and testing lands; loss of transportation means, facilities, and/or corridors; and increased potential for loss of life.
The objective of this project is to develop analysis methods for assessing the impacts of local mean sea level rise and associated phenomena on two U.S. military installations in the southwestern United States (Naval Base Coronado and Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton). Researchers will develop an analysis framework for determining military installation vulnerabilities under joint scenarios for four specified increases in local mean sea level of 0.5 meters, 1.0 meters, 1.5 meters and 2.0 meters (5, 10, 15 and 20 mm/year) and other regional-specific climatic responses as projected over the next century, in order to allow the use of this framework for assessing the potential vulnerabilities of any coastal military installation in the southwestern United States.
Development of the framework and vulnerability assessment will consist of five primary components: (1) adapt a generalized vulnerability framework for application to coastal military installations; (2) characterize and predict the strength, frequency, and probability of underlying forcing factors that control regional sea level using the predicted characteristics of these forcing factors to develop realistic assessment scenarios based on the joint probability of occurrence for a range of regional sea level conditions; (3) compile critical biogeophysical and infrastructure data for each installation within a three-dimensional GIS modeling environment; (4) under joint-SLR scenarios, characterize the expected physical effects of sea level rise within the Southwest region; and (5) under each of the defined joint-SLR scenarios, develop a GIS modeling system combined with infrastructure analysis that can be used to evaluate the potential for impact to infrastructure and natural resources across the gradient of conditions present at the regional installations.
This project will provide a military-relevant framework for assessing accelerated SLR vulnerability, a cutting-edge visualization and analysis tool, and expert input to develop scientifically based scenarios of waves, tides, and storms and their implications for selected coastal military installations in the southwestern United States. Methodology will be developed to anticipate the scope of the physical effects of sea level rise and increased storm frequency and intensity on these installations. Physical effects will be evaluated within a three-dimensional analysis environment to assess the potential vulnerabilities of infrastructure, operations, and training at these installations. This framework and modeling tool will provide a basis for future analysis including further work toward development of possible mitigation options. (Anticipated Project Completion - 2013)
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