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The big Arctic ice melt is just the start.

Climate change is likely to rearrange terrain and sow instability around the globe in the coming decades, according to the U.S. Navy.

That is why climate science might turn up as a basic component of war games, sailor training and facility planning beginning later this year.

They are part of the Navy’s Climate Change Roadmap, a four-year plan released in late May aimed at preparing for global shifts in weather. The roadmap follows on the heels of a 2009 Navy study that indicated Arctic sea ice could disappear within decades, opening prime sea lanes for the first time in history.

“We issued the Arctic Roadmap first because that is where the most significant evidence of climate change is occurring,” Rear Adm. Dave Titley, director of Task Force Climate Change and Oceanographer of the Navy, said in a statement. “But the Arctic is not a vacuum. The changes that are occurring there, from both an environmental and political standpoint, reflect changes that will occur in the rest of the world.”

The first steps to implement evidence into planning and training will begin this fall, when coursework on the effects of climate change on national security is added at the Naval War College, according to a copy of the roadmap obtained by Stars and Stripes.

By 2012, the risks and safety issues raised by climate change will be considered in fleet training and planning.

For example, rising sea levels could reduce the number of overseas ports available for refueling and resupply. For expeditionary operations, there could be more demand for earthmoving work due to higher seas and erosion, and new requirements for fuel and water storage, according to the roadmap.

The Navy will issue the first in a series of assessments on particular global climate concerns sometime in the next year and will spend the next four years studying the issue with partner organizations such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Getting prepared will depend on an “understanding of the timing, severity and impact of the changing climate based on the best available science,” Titley said.


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