5.7 Keeping it Off the Loading Dock: Climate Adaptation Engagement with the Department of Defense

Tuesday, 12 January 2016: 4:45 PM
Room 333-334 ( New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center)
Gregg M. Garfin, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ; and R. Sagarin (deceased), D. Falk, A. Haworth, K. Jacobs, C. O'Connor, J. Overpeck, J. Weiss, and A. Zuniga-Teran

The Department of Defense, a key U.S. Southwest landowner, faces climate risks and opportunities in all areas of performance. Issues include endangered species stewardship, infrastructure integrity, training, and intersections of climate and geopolitical risk. We used risk-based Deliberation with Analysis to co-evaluate risk and adaptation opportunities at sea and land bases in the Southwest. Base personnel identified sensitivities and thresholds, and prioritized risk using criteria such as “systems highly sensitive to changes” and “failure is not an option.” Top-ranking risks included competition for resources resulting in conflict with local users, and increased wildfires damaging training grounds and hydrology. Adaptation opportunities include working with local governments and regional stakeholders (e.g., federal and tribal managers) to improve regional resilience, and measures to improve asset performance as well as the environment. Challenges to climate change risk management and embedding climate adaptation in standard operating procedures include high turnover of leadership and other personnel, perceived lack of specificity, precision and accuracy in climate change projections, and perception that projected increases in climate risks are distant in space and time. Success in working with bases requires short engagement times, to reduce consultant fatigue; focus on intersections between mission and changing risk; and using existing mission-focused decision tools to identify operations impacts. In addition, we recommend two complementary approaches to embedding climate adaptation risk management thinking in standard operating procedures: mainstreaming projected climate risks into existing risk and emergency management protocols, and building the capacity to use climate change information by working through highly detailed and sector-specific risks. The former allows minimal disruption to existing routines and the latter is a gateway for demonstrating tangible and practical applications of climate projections.
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