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Title: Climate and National Security Briefing


This presentation is briefing for potential sponsors of LANL work relating to climate and national security impacts.

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  1. Los Alamos National Lab. (LANL), Los Alamos, NM (United States)
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Los Alamos National Lab. (LANL), Los Alamos, NM (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
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Report Number(s):
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Country of Publication:
United States

Citation Formats

Wilson, Cathy Jean, Dors, Eric Edward, Turin, Howard Jay, and Hunke, Elizabeth Clare. Climate and National Security Briefing. United States: N. p., 2017. Web. doi:10.2172/1341851.
Wilson, Cathy Jean, Dors, Eric Edward, Turin, Howard Jay, & Hunke, Elizabeth Clare. Climate and National Security Briefing. United States. doi:10.2172/1341851.
Wilson, Cathy Jean, Dors, Eric Edward, Turin, Howard Jay, and Hunke, Elizabeth Clare. Tue . "Climate and National Security Briefing". United States. doi:10.2172/1341851.
title = {Climate and National Security Briefing},
author = {Wilson, Cathy Jean and Dors, Eric Edward and Turin, Howard Jay and Hunke, Elizabeth Clare},
abstractNote = {This presentation is briefing for potential sponsors of LANL work relating to climate and national security impacts.},
doi = {10.2172/1341851},
journal = {},
number = ,
volume = ,
place = {United States},
year = {Tue Jan 31 00:00:00 EST 2017},
month = {Tue Jan 31 00:00:00 EST 2017}

Technical Report:

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  • The dual issues of energy security and climate change mitigation are driving a renewed debate over how to best provide safe, secure, reliable and environmentally responsible electricity to our nation. The combination of growing energy demand and aging electricity generation infrastructure suggests major new capacity additions will be required in the years ahead.
  • The Arctic region is rapidly changing in a way that will affect the rest of the world. Parts of Alaska, western Canada, and Siberia are currently warming at twice the global rate. This warming trend is accelerating permafrost deterioration, coastal erosion, snow and ice loss, and other changes that are a direct consequence of climate change. Climatologists have long understood that changes in the Arctic would be faster and more intense than elsewhere on the planet, but the degree and speed of the changes were underestimated compared to recent observations. Policy makers have not yet had time to examine themore » latest evidence or appreciate the nature of the consequences. Thus, the abruptness and severity of an unfolding Arctic climate crisis has not been incorporated into long-range planning. The purpose of this report is to briefly review the physical basis for global climate change and Arctic amplification, summarize the ongoing observations, discuss the potential consequences, explain the need for an objective risk assessment, develop scenarios for future change, review existing modeling capabilities and the need for better regional models, and finally to make recommendations for Sandia's future role in preparing our leaders to deal with impacts of Arctic climate change on national security. Accurate and credible regional-scale climate models are still several years in the future, and those models are essential for estimating climate impacts around the globe. This study demonstrates how a scenario-based method may be used to give insights into climate impacts on a regional scale and possible mitigation. Because of our experience in the Arctic and widespread recognition of the Arctic's importance in the Earth climate system we chose the Arctic as a test case for an assessment of climate impacts on national security. Sandia can make a swift and significant contribution by applying modeling and simulation tools with internal collaborations as well as with outside organizations. Because changes in the Arctic environment are happening so rapidly, a successful program will be one that can adapt very quickly to new information as it becomes available, and can provide decision makers with projections on the 1-5 year time scale over which the most disruptive, high-consequence changes are likely to occur. The greatest short-term impact would be to initiate exploratory simulations to discover new emergent and robust phenomena associated with one or more of the following changing systems: Arctic hydrological cycle, sea ice extent, ocean and atmospheric circulation, permafrost deterioration, carbon mobilization, Greenland ice sheet stability, and coastal erosion. Sandia can also contribute to new technology solutions for improved observations in the Arctic, which is currently a data-sparse region. Sensitivity analyses have the potential to identify thresholds which would enable the collaborative development of 'early warning' sensor systems to seek predicted phenomena that might be precursory to major, high-consequence changes. Much of this work will require improved regional climate models and advanced computing capabilities. Socio-economic modeling tools can help define human and national security consequences. Formal uncertainty quantification must be an integral part of any results that emerge from this work.« less
  • Climate change is a long-term process that will trigger a range of multi-dimensional demographic, economic, geopolitical, and national security issues with many unknowns and significant uncertainties. At first glance, climate-change-related national security dimensions seem far removed from today's major national security threats. Yet climate change has already set in motion forces that will require U.S. attention and preparedness. The extent and uncertainty associated with these situations necessitate a move away from conventional security practices, toward a small but flexible portfolio of assets to maintain U.S. interests. Thoughtful action is required now if we are to acquire the capabilities, tools, systems,more » and institutions needed to meet U.S. national security requirements as they evolve with the emerging stresses and shifts of climate change.« less
  • Climate change, through drought, flooding, storms, heat waves, and melting Arctic ice, affects the production and flow of resource within and among geographical regions. The interactions among governments, populations, and sectors of the economy require integrated assessment based on risk, through uncertainty quantification (UQ). This project evaluated the capabilities with Sandia National Laboratories to perform such integrated analyses, as they relate to (inter)national security. The combining of the UQ results from climate models with hydrological and economic/infrastructure impact modeling appears to offer the best capability for national security risk assessments.
  • On June 4, 2014, the Henry M. Jackson Foundation and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory hosted a groundbreaking symposium in Seattle, Washington, that brought together 36 leaders from federal agencies, state and local governments, NGOs, business, and academia. The participants examined approaches and tools to help decision makers make informed choices about the climate and security risks they face. The following executive summary is based on the day’s discussions and examines the problem of climate change and its impact on national security, the responses to date, and future considerations.