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Title: Climate-derived tensions in Arctic security.

Abstract

Globally, there is no lack of security threats. Many of them demand priority engagement and there can never be adequate resources to address all threats. In this context, climate is just another aspect of global security and the Arctic just another region. In light of physical and budgetary constraints, new security needs must be integrated and prioritized with existing ones. This discussion approaches the security impacts of climate from that perspective, starting with the broad security picture and establishing how climate may affect it. This method provides a different view from one that starts with climate and projects it, in isolation, as the source of a hypothetical security burden. That said, the Arctic does appear to present high-priority security challenges. Uncertainty in the timing of an ice-free Arctic affects how quickly it will become a security priority. Uncertainty in the emergent extreme and variable weather conditions will determine the difficulty (cost) of maintaining adequate security (order) in the area. The resolution of sovereignty boundaries affects the ability to enforce security measures, and the U.S. will most probably need a military presence to back-up negotiated sovereignty agreements. Without additional global warming, technology already allows the Arctic to become a strategic linkmore » in the global supply chain, possibly with northern Russia as its main hub. Additionally, the multinational corporations reaping the economic bounty may affect security tensions more than nation-states themselves. Countries will depend ever more heavily on the global supply chains. China has particular needs to protect its trade flows. In matters of security, nation-state and multinational-corporate interests will become heavily intertwined.« less

Authors:
;
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Sandia National Laboratories
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE
OSTI Identifier:
941406
Report Number(s):
SAND2008-6342
TRN: US200824%%593
DOE Contract Number:
AC04-94AL85000
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES; AVAILABILITY; CLIMATES; ECONOMICS; GREENHOUSE EFFECT; RESOLUTION; SECURITY; WEATHER; Security-International.; International agencies-Inventories.; Arctic regions-Climate.

Citation Formats

Backus, George A., and Strickland, James Hassler. Climate-derived tensions in Arctic security.. United States: N. p., 2008. Web. doi:10.2172/941406.
Backus, George A., & Strickland, James Hassler. Climate-derived tensions in Arctic security.. United States. doi:10.2172/941406.
Backus, George A., and Strickland, James Hassler. Mon . "Climate-derived tensions in Arctic security.". United States. doi:10.2172/941406. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/941406.
@article{osti_941406,
title = {Climate-derived tensions in Arctic security.},
author = {Backus, George A. and Strickland, James Hassler},
abstractNote = {Globally, there is no lack of security threats. Many of them demand priority engagement and there can never be adequate resources to address all threats. In this context, climate is just another aspect of global security and the Arctic just another region. In light of physical and budgetary constraints, new security needs must be integrated and prioritized with existing ones. This discussion approaches the security impacts of climate from that perspective, starting with the broad security picture and establishing how climate may affect it. This method provides a different view from one that starts with climate and projects it, in isolation, as the source of a hypothetical security burden. That said, the Arctic does appear to present high-priority security challenges. Uncertainty in the timing of an ice-free Arctic affects how quickly it will become a security priority. Uncertainty in the emergent extreme and variable weather conditions will determine the difficulty (cost) of maintaining adequate security (order) in the area. The resolution of sovereignty boundaries affects the ability to enforce security measures, and the U.S. will most probably need a military presence to back-up negotiated sovereignty agreements. Without additional global warming, technology already allows the Arctic to become a strategic link in the global supply chain, possibly with northern Russia as its main hub. Additionally, the multinational corporations reaping the economic bounty may affect security tensions more than nation-states themselves. Countries will depend ever more heavily on the global supply chains. China has particular needs to protect its trade flows. In matters of security, nation-state and multinational-corporate interests will become heavily intertwined.},
doi = {10.2172/941406},
journal = {},
number = ,
volume = ,
place = {United States},
year = {Mon Sep 01 00:00:00 EDT 2008},
month = {Mon Sep 01 00:00:00 EDT 2008}
}

Technical Report:

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  • 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
  • The motivation for this project was to advance the science of climate change and prediction in the Arctic region. Its primary goals were to (i) develop a state-of-the-art Regional Arctic Climate system Model (RACM) including high-resolution atmosphere, land, ocean, sea ice and land hydrology components and (ii) to perform extended numerical experiments using high performance computers to minimize uncertainties and fundamentally improve current predictions of climate change in the northern polar regions. These goals were realized first through evaluation studies of climate system components via one-way coupling experiments. Simulations were then used to examine the effects of advancements in climatemore » component systems on their representation of main physics, time-mean fields and to understand variability signals at scales over many years. As such this research directly addressed some of the major science objectives of the BER Climate Change Research Division (CCRD) regarding the advancement of long-term climate prediction.« less
  • Primary activities are reported in these areas: climate system component studies via one-way coupling experiments; development of the Regional Arctic Climate System Model (RACM); and physical feedback studies focusing on changes in Arctic sea ice using the fully coupled model.
  • The primary research task completed for this project was the development of the Regional Arctic Climate Model (RACM). This involved coupling existing atmosphere, ocean, sea ice, and land models using the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) Community Climate System Model (CCSM) coupler (CPL7). RACM is based on the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) atmospheric model, the Parallel Ocean Program (POP) ocean model, the CICE sea ice model, and the Variable Infiltration Capacity (VIC) land model. A secondary research task for this project was testing and evaluation of WRF for climate-scale simulations on the large pan-Arctic model domain used inmore » RACM. This involved identification of a preferred set of model physical parameterizations for use in our coupled RACM simulations and documenting any atmospheric biases present in RACM.« less
  • This is the final report for DOE grant DE-FG02-07ER64434 to Eric DeWeaver at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The overall goal of work performed under this grant is to enhance understanding of simulations of present-day climate and greenhouse gas-induced climate change. Enhanced understanding is desirable 1) as a prerequisite for improving simulations; 2) for assessing the credibility of model simulations and their usefulness as tools for decision support; and 3) as a means to identify robust behaviors which commonly occur over a wide range of models, and may yield insights regarding the dominant physical mechanisms which determine mean climate and producemore » climate change. A furthe objective is to investigate the use of data assimilation as a means for examining and correcting model biases. Our primary focus is on the Arctic, but the scope of the work was expanded to include the global climate system to the extent that research targets of opportunity present themselves. Research performed under the grant falls into five main research areas: 1) a study of data assimilation using an ensemble filter with the atmospheric circulation model of the National Center for Atmospheric Research, in which both conventional observations and observations of the refraction of radio waves from GPS satellites were used to constrain the atmospheric state of the model; 2) research on the likely future status of polar bears, in which climate model simluations were used to assess the effectiveness of climate change mitigation efforts in preserving the habitat of polar bears, now considered a threatened species under global warming; 3) as assessment of the credibility of Arctic sea ice thickness simulations from climate models; 4) An examination of the persistence and reemergence of Northern Hemisphere sea ice area anomalies in climate model simulations and in observations; 5) An examination of the roles played by changes in net radiation and surface relative humidity in determine the response of the hydrological cycle to global warming.« less