Combating Sea Level Rise: A Policy Proposal to Improve Installation Resilience and Military Readiness
Chapell, Sarah Curran
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The Department of Defense manages one of the world’s largest real estate portfolios, maintaining 1,200 installations in the U.S. to support its mission of deterring conflict and protecting national security. Safeguarding these installations is critical to mission assurance, yet Congress and the Department of Defense face an immense challenge in protecting coastal installations from impacts of sea level rise, a consequence of climate change projected to continue at an accelerating rate over the next century. Sea level rise will continue to cause installation damage through more frequent and extensive tidal flooding, intensifying storm surge flooding, and land loss due to permanent inundation. Two-thirds of mission-essential installations in the U.S. are vulnerable to this threat currently or in the future with the potential for billions of dollars required for infrastructure repair and replacement. This policy proposal offers that using consistent sea level rise projections and subsequent installation realignment, closure, or adaptation will prevent damage to military installations in the U.S. and its territories, protecting defense budgets and military readiness.