"Among the future trends that will impact our national security is climate change," said Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel. "Rising global temperatures, changing precipitation patterns, climbing sea levels, and more extreme weather events will intensify the challenges of global instability, hunger, poverty, and conflict. By taking a proactive, flexible approach to assessment, analysis, and adaptation, the Defense Department will keep pace with a changing climate, minimize its impacts on our missions, and continue to protect our national security."
The third National Climate Assessment notes that certain types of weather events have become more frequent and /or intense, including heat waves, heavy downpours, and, in some regions, floods and droughts. Sea levels are rising, oceans are becoming more acidic, and glaciers and arctic sea ice are melting. Scientists predict that these changes will continue and even increase in frequency or duration over the next 100 years.
These 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.
Climate change also will interact with other stressors in ways that may affect the deployment of U.S. Forces overseas and here at home. As climate change affects the availability of food and water, human migration, and competition for natural resources, the Department's unique capability to provide logistical, material, and security assistance on a massive scale or in rapid fashion may be called upon with increasing frequency. As the incidence and severity of extreme weather events change, the Department will adapt to meet these dynamic operational realities.