“Our coastal installations are vulnerable to rising sea
levels and increased flooding, while droughts, wildfires
and more extreme temperatures could threaten many of
our training activities,” he wrote. “Our supply chains
could be impacted, and we will need to ensure our crit-
ical equipment works under more extreme weather con-
ditions. Weather has always affected military operations,
and as the climate changes, the way we execute opera-
tions may be altered or constrained.”
The roadmap outlines a long list of potential
impacts. Along with flooding, rising sea levels threaten
training areas, like beaches or coastal forests, and can
erode protective marshes and beaches.
“Some training/testing lands may lose their carrying
capacity altogether,” it states.
Damaged ports risk deliveries of food, water and
material to help with resupply, like what commercial
ports experienced after Hurricanes Sandy and Katrina.
The roadmap also sets several reviews of existing
plans and programs including sustainable ranges and
installation, and integrated natural resource management plans.
“Climate-related effects are already being observed
at installations throughout the U.S. and overseas and
affect many of the Department’s activities and decisions related to future operating environments, military readiness, stationing, environmental compliance
and stewardship, and infrastructure planning and
maintenance,” Hagel wrote.
The department has ordered
baseline surveys for more than
7,000 military bases, installations
and facilities. These will help figure out ways to protect infrastructure from the impacts of rising seas
and storm surges.
Norfolk and Coronado Naval
Base, which includes the Silver
Strand and North Island air station, are among a handful of installations that have been studied to
help determine models to assess
vulnerabilities. Others include
Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune,
N.C.; Camp Pendleton; and Eglin
Air Force Base, Fla.
The Arctic Roadmap, issued last
year by the Navy’s Task Force
Climate Change, follows on the
Navy’s 2010 Climate Change
Roadmap that sets goals through
2020 and outlines the service’s strategic approach for the Arctic region.
“The Navy is focusing on strate-
gy and getting a good understanding of the environ-
ment in the Arctic,” said LT Timothy Hawkins, a Navy
spokesman. “As the ice melts at a pace faster than fore-
casts that scientists previously predicted, there is going
to be increased activity, increased human traffic.”
The Navy is involved with various efforts to deter-
mine possible impacts of rising sea levels on installa-
tions and is working with federal scientists and other
experts on ways to mitigate or prevent damaging
effects, he said. For example, a pier might have to be
replaced and built higher.
Hawkins said Navy officials “are just at the very
beginning stages of learning and understanding” the
potential impact of climate change. “DoD is looking at
it, and leaders are serious about it,” he added. “We are
not there where we have a complete understanding of
it. It’s a very complex issue, and a sensitive one.”
Retired RADM Len Hering, a former commander of
Navy Region Northwest and Navy Region Southwest,
said “sea level rise is and has been on the Navy’s radar
scope for quite a long time. These are major issues.”
The strong typhoon Hagupit that struck the
Philippines in December “created 1. 28 million home-
less, overnight — and it’s not one of the most populated
Philippine islands,” said Hering, executive director of
the San Diego-based Center for Sustainable Energy and
a former surface warfare officer who studied meteorolo-
gy and oceanography. “You really start to recognize what
[rising sea level] means on a global scale.”
WWW.SEAPOWERMAGAZINE.ORG 44 SEAPOWER / JULY/AUGUST 2015
U.S. Coast Guard logistics crews inspect Coast Guard Sandy Hook facilities, Nov.
1, 2012, after Hurricane Sandy devastated the area near Sandy Hook, N.J. Several
Coast Guard facilities were destroyed by flooding in the area. Sea services and
other agency officials are growing increasingly concerned about the impact the
potential double-whammy of higher seas during severe weather events could have
on low-lying naval and military installations, critical infrastructure and seaports.