13 November 2023

US DOD launches Climate Resilience Portal

On 31 October, the United States Department of Defence launched a new web portal regarding climate resilience. The online space, which is placed under the wing of the general DOD website, aims to serve as a central hub of climate change information to reduce complexity and inform DOD decision-making.

Recognition of climate change has been the DOD’s official stance since 2008. The DOD also acknowledges a changing climate as a threat to national security, calling it ‘’one of many threat multipliers.’’

This online environment is a next step in the integration of that acknowledgement into US security decision-making. It aims to be a central, one-stop focal point for scientifically credible, neutral, authoritative, and actionable climate change information.

The urgency of integrating climate-perspectives into DOD considerations has become apparent by the risks and threats to defence installations. In July this year, floodings at West Point Military Academy, New York, caused over $150 million in damages. ‘’Climate hazards affect basing and access to locations vital for deterrence. They destroy critical infrastructure and capabilities. They put troops and military families in harm's way. And they are costly,’’ said Kathleen Hicks, US Deputy Defence Secretary in August.

The new portal hosts various tools such as the DOD Climate Assessment Tool, which gives insights into climate vulnerabilities of US military installations. The tool uses data from past extreme weather events (e.g., hurricanes, tornado tracks) and the effects of future changes in sea levels, riverine flooding, drought, extreme temperature, land degradation, energy demand, and wildfires to produce hazard indicators.

To help military decision makers integrate climate considerations, the DOD provides a Weather Climate Continuum which offers climate questions to consider for different types of military operations. For an amphibious assault, for example, they might consider whether heavy rains might flood the staging base. Tools and sources for further information to address these questions are detailed.

The site also provides a resource library with documents relevant to US climate security, such as the DOD Climate Adaptation Plan. In addition, you can find a page with DOD climate news, and a Glossary, where basic climate terms such as ‘adaptation’, ‘resilience’, and ‘climate literacy’ are explained.