Climate Model Comparative Assessment for DoD Infrastructure Applications

The Department of Defense (DoD) faces a long-term threat from a changing climate to its many infrastructure installations. In response, ESTCP is supporting projects that seek to address infrastructure resilience needs using innovative and cost-effective technologies.

RC Blog 05052022

DoD installations currently use the Defense Climate Action Tool (DCAT) for the integration of projected climate conditions into planning. The tool relies on the Localized Constructed Analogs (LOCA) statistical downscaling technique with a daily temporal and 6 km spatial resolution; the technique currently relies on the prior generation CMIP5 global climate models. In 2022, the ESTCP Resource Conservation and Resiliency Program Area is funding projects that will assess the currently available approaches regarding statistical and dynamical downscaling of climate-related data and that can be applied to the 6th Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP6) climate model data for the purpose of informing DoD infrastructure planning. Specifically, the following projects will compare, contrast, and identify technical readiness and maturity of currently available state-of-the-science and engineering practice approaches that support infrastructure site planning and engineering design needs for DoD installations in the contiguous US (CONUS), Alaska (AK), and Hawaii (HI):

  • At Cornell University, Dr. Flavio Lehner and his project team will develop a prototype decision tool that will be used to improve understanding of downscaled climate information. The tool will be based on a comprehensive characterization and evaluation of downscaled climate information for approximately five DoD installations both within and outside of the contiguous United States. The tool’s development will aid in informing explicit choices made when using climate change information in current and future DoD assessments of climate risks and impacts (Project Overview available soon).
  • At the University of Iowa, Dr. Gabriele Villarini and her project team will develop a generalized downscaling and evaluation framework that is flexibly adaptable to existing and future planned climate projections. The framework will utilize observations and data from three DoD installations within and outside of the contiguous United States most prone to “black flag” days (i.e. days when all outdoor activity must cease due to wet bulb temperatures over 90°F), heatwaves, intense storms, and permafrost melting. The framework will be made ready for application in other projects to other installation sites as part of broader support of ESTCP goals. The results of the project will provide a detailed and quantitative evaluation of the most appropriate downscaling approach for different DoD needs ( Project Overview).

To learn more about the other forty-nine new ESTCP project selections for FY22, please visit our new project selection page.

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