SERDP Climate Change Program Review

RC Blog Graphic 8-3-15

Climate change creates challenges to Department of Defense (DoD) permanent installations worldwide in terms of potential impacts to infrastructure, military readiness, and operations. To be proactive in this realm and help make DoD installations resilient to the challenges posed by climate change, SERDP began funding climate change-related research in 2009. Current and previously funded projects are helping to develop the understanding, models, and tools necessary to identify vulnerable assets, assess impacts, and determine appropriate adaptive responses. To assess research findings to date and to identify future research needs, SERDP held a Climate Change Program Review meeting in early July 2015 in Boulder, Colorado in collaboration with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)—a lead agency for climate change-related research and user transition. The meeting provided a summary of the status of and contributions from completed and late-stage research, explored new knowledge and insights emanating from ongoing research, and built on SERDP experience to identify potential new challenges and research opportunities to guide future investments.

The Chief Science Advisor for NOAA’s Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research, Dr. Alexander “Sandy” MacDonald, and the acting SERDP and ESTCP Executive Director, Dr. Anne Andrews, provided introductions for the meeting. Next, the Resource Conservation and Climate Change Program Manager, Dr. John Hall, provided an overview of SERDP Climate Change research: both past accomplishments and new challenges. He was followed by Dr. Robert Webb, Director of NOAA’s Physical Sciences Division, who provided an overview of current NOAA research interests. Subsequently, a summary of SERDP-supported climate modeling products was provided by current SERDP researchers.

The meeting included an overview of regional (Pacific Islands, Southeast, Southwest, and Alaska) climate-related research issues that SERDP-funded and other research may have elucidated for the region. These presentations also identified challenges associated with the currently available climate information to inform process and vulnerability/impact assessment models. The work done by SERDP researchers along with NOAA staff scientists is helping to create a better understanding of the information needs in these regions. In particular, they helped identify issues associated with potential mismatches in scale and how these affect uncertainty characterization and the use of climate data in process and vulnerability/impact assessment models. These regional presentations also provided an opportunity to identify unmet research needs in vulnerability/impact assessment and adaptation science.

The meeting also explored the underlying science questions associated with providing climate change information at moderate time scales, 2 to 20 years, which is currently a key area of interest for DoD decision-makers. Presenters discussed these time scales with a focus towards identifying research needs addressing challenges with these timeframes that are use-inspired. Decision framing-related discussions rounded out the meeting. SERDP is preparing a synthesis report on a group of currently funded projects that address decision framing directed at policy- and decision-makers. Session presentations helped to continue the dialogue of how to go from “predict-then-act” to robust decision-making frameworks that address uncertainty that may potentially lead to new areas of investigation. In addition, research was presented that identified the appropriate uses of downscaling, evaluation techniques, and research/translation needs to address the user perspective on this issue.

A brief meeting report will be produced and posted on the SERDP and ESTCP website in the coming months. Stay tuned for more information. For additional information on current and previously funded SERDP projects, visit SERDP and ESTCP’s Climate Change webpage.

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