CEMML Climate Change Services

Localized climate change projections:

CEMML’s climate scientists can generate site specific climate projections for installations. They use local historical daily temperature and precipitation data over a 30-year period to establish average historical conditions. They then establish four different climate change scenarios under differing emission scenarios and timeframes. These climate projections are based on recent global climate model simulations developed for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Projected climate data is then used to assess potential impacts to the installation’s mission and natural resources.

Hydrologic and hydraulic modeling to predict flooding:

CEMML’s hydrology team is able to conduct modeling of stream channel overflow (or flood modeling) based on the four different climate change projections. This modeling establishes likely flooding associated with precipitation induced stream channel overflow, coastal sea level rise, and storm surges that may affect the installation. A hydrologic model can also be created for the watershed where the installation is located to represent how tributaries and sub-basins upstream of the installation are interconnected. A hydraulic model can be used to simulate channelized flow and stream channel overflow at the installation.

Ecosystem and vegetation vulnerability to climate change and projected future range:

CEMML’s experts can establish baseline characteristics of ecosystems at each of the installations by using existing literature, available Geographic Information Systems (GIS) data and installation-provided descriptions, analysis and maps. A baseline ecosystem feature map comprised of an ecosystem shapefile layer clipped to the installation’s boundary can also be created. A vulnerability assessment of the ecosystems at the installation can then be carried out by reviewing the ecological characteristics and assessing the adaptive capacity of each ecosystem present at the installation. Fish and wildlife assessments using climate projections can also be performed.

Threatened and endangered species distribution, range change, and management strategies:

Vulnerability assessments of threatened and endangered species can be conducted. CEMML experts use a framework developed by Thomas et al. (2011) which defines vulnerability status through the intersection of risk of climate-related decline in existing range and benefits of unaided climate-related expansion. This accounts for both the negative effects of climate change on species’ current ranges as well as the possibility of range expansion. CEMML veers away from advising species-specific management actions, opting instead for ecosystem-based, adaptive management approaches, which are more effective for building climate adaptation strategies to protect threatened and endangered species.

Assessment of climate change impacts to military mission:

For each of the installations, a qualitative assessment of climate change impacts to the military mission can be carried out. This assessment follows a four step-process which takes into consideration the type of Air Force mission, the biological and physical environment of each installation, and the potential effects of climate change on these operational environments and environmental features. The four steps of the process are (1) describe the operational environment, (2) describe environmental effects on operations, (3) evaluate the threat, and (4) determine threat courses of action.

Fish and wildlife management based on climate projections and vulnerabilities:

CEMML’s adaptation strategies for fish and wildlife management are built upon the principles of resistance, resilience, and transformation. Ideally, natural adaptation methods that provide multiple benefits to ecosystems can be implemented, securing continued ecological function despite the effects of climate change. When this is not possible, a more transformative approach can be adopted. This rests on anticipating climate changed induced alterations and facilitating transitions to adapt to future climate conditions, while minimizing ecological disruption.

Wildland fire climate assessment and future fire behavior estimation and anticipated effects:

CEMML’s team of experts are able to create future scenarios of wildland fire hazard by considering each variable contributing to wildfire potential and evaluating its likelihood to worsen, improve, or remain unchanged. The primary components of fire hazard ignition probability are determined by ignition success and ignition load. Fire behavior is estimated by measuring fuels, weather, and topography. Together, these indicators of ignition and wildfire potential improve prediction of wildland fire hazard and wildland fire management techniques.

Coastal Zone and Marine Resources Management:

Using sea level rise and storm surge modeling, CEMML can assess impacts to built infrastructure and assets on installations and identify various vulnerabilities. This is accomplished by overlaying spatial data layers of installation assets onto projected inundation areas. After assessing the vulnerability level, adaptation strategies to protect infrastructure and assets are suggested and rated by their ease of implementation, their relative efficacy, and their ecological impact.

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