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Title: The Arctic as a test case for an assessment of climate impacts on national security.

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 the 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 onmore » 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
Authors:
; ; ; ;
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
945918
Report Number(s):
SAND2008-7006
TRN: US200904%%194
DOE Contract Number:
AC04-94AL85000
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Research Org:
Sandia National Laboratories
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
45 MILITARY TECHNOLOGY, WEAPONRY, AND NATIONAL DEFENSE; AMPLIFICATION; ARCTIC REGIONS; ATMOSPHERIC CIRCULATION; CARBON; CLIMATE MODELS; CLIMATES; CLIMATIC CHANGE; MITIGATION; NATIONAL SECURITY; PERMAFROST; PLANNING; RISK ASSESSMENT; SEAS; SENSITIVITY; SIMULATION; SNOW; STABILITY; VELOCITY; National security-Environmental aspects.; National security.; Arctic regions-Climate.