The U.S. Navy’s top oceanographer spoke before an international global warming summit in Copenhagen on Wednesday and called climate change a “common enemy” that should bring nations together, according to a Navy news release.

Rear Adm. David Titley, oceanographer of the Navy and director of the Navy Task Force Climate Change, said changing climate is challenging maritime security and that the Navy is making plans to address the issues. His testimony was part of a landmark meeting of leaders from more than 120 countries who met in Denmark last week to discuss how humans are affecting temperatures.

“The U.S. Navy is committed to addressing global climate change using a science-based approach,” Titley told the United Nations Panel on National Security Implications of Climate Change, the release said.

Titley and the Navy Task Force Climate Change staff are examining the effect of melting Arctic ice and the possibility that the area could turn into one of the world’s prime shipping lanes within decades, Stars and Stripes reported in August.

Melting Arctic ice is a near-term impact of global warming that will require the Navy to build new partnerships and to adapt, Titley contended.

“In this context, climate change may be viewed as a ‘common enemy’ that will bring nations together towards a common end,” Titley said.

Farther into the future, changes in temperature and precipitation could require more Navy humanitarian and disaster-relief missions, he said.

Wild-card effects — effects not understood well by scientists — could include the impact of changing ocean acidity on food sources and the effects of glacial ice sheet melting on sea levels.

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign up to receive a daily email of today's top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign Up Now