A Hotter and Drier Future Ahead – An Assessment of Climate Change in U.S. Central Command

May 2024 No Comments

Speakers: Dr. Michelle Miro, Dr. Flannery Dolan, Karen Sudkamp, & Jeffrey Martini (RAND)

Date: 9 May 2024

Speaker Session Summary

Climate-related stressors present significant risks to future stability in countries worldwide, affecting all US Combatant Commands. The research team from RAND focused on assessing climate change risks to USCENTCOM in their latest report, employing data analyzed at the regional, national, and sub-national level and utilizing four climate models to generate eight future scenarios. Their findings elucidate which countries are most vulnerable to climate change and will endure the most severe impacts. For instance, Dr. Miro illustrated how the Levant and Egypt will face challenges from extreme heat and water scarcity. Dr. Dolan outlined how these climate risks are unfolding across the USCENTCOM Area of Responsibility, highlighting the critical threats posed to Iraq and Syria by drought and aridity in Central and South Asia, regions heavily reliant on agriculture for their economies. 

The presenters distinguished between acute and chronic climate threats, with examples including drought and sea-level rise, respectively. Ms. Sudkamp emphasized the widely acknowledged causal link between climate stressors and conflict, contingent upon various intervening conditions. One such condition is the presence of a strong and centralized government. In conclusion, the team provided recommendations on enhancing USCENTCOM’s mitigation capabilities, fostering cooperation with allies, and promoting innovation in the region. One proposed measure is to encourage partners to integrate climate impact considerations into their force posture by establishing bilateral and multilateral platforms for sharing technologies aimed at mitigating the effects of climate change. These strategies aim to bolster resilience and mitigate the destabilizing effects of climate change on the region. 

Speaker Series Recording

Briefing Materials

Report: https://www.rand.org/pubs/research_reports/RRA2338-1.html

Biographies: Dr. Michelle Miro is a senior information scientist at RAND and a professor of policy analysis at the Pardee RAND Graduate School. She has a broad portfolio of work across climate resilience and adaptation for critical infrastructure, with a focus on the water sector. Her research supports international, federal, and local emergency, infrastructure, and resource management agencies with climate adaptation, disaster resilience and recovery, and water resources planning. Miro has methodological expertise in water resources modeling, climate data analysis, remote sensing, geospatial analysis, machine learning and decision making under deep uncertainty (DMDU). Her projects include climate risk analyses of national critical infrastructure, climate vulnerability analyses of water supply and demand plans in Southern California and South America, groundwater management in urban and agricultural regions, transboundary water management under a climate change, and extreme precipitation impacts and planning under a changing climate. She also serves as a co-investigator for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Mid-Atlantic Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessments (MARISA) Climate Adaptation Partnership (CAP). Miro co-led the development of Puerto Rico’s water sector recovery plan following Hurricanes Irma and Maria. She holds an MS in Civil Engineering from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and a PhD in Civil Engineering from the University of California, Los Angeles.

Dr. Flannery C. Dolan is an environmental engineer and hydrologist at RAND and a professor of policy analysis at the Pardee RAND Graduate School. She focuses on understanding the interlinkages and feedbacks between the human and natural systems. Broadly, she is interested in long-term planning under uncertainty given multiple objectives in complex adaptive systems. Her current portfolio of work assesses the impacts of climate change on the federal budget, financial risk, and national security. She has methodological expertise in integrated assessment modeling, climate data analysis, water resources modeling, and decisionmaking under deep uncertainty (DMDU). She holds a B.S. in geophysics and an M.S. in hydrologic science and engineering from the Colorado School of Mines and a Ph.D. in civil and environmental engineering from Tufts University.

Karen M. Sudkamp is an associate director of the Infrastructure, Immigration, and Security Operations (IISO) Program, part of the RAND Homeland Security Research Division, a management scientist, and a professor of policy analysis at Pardee RAND Graduate School. Her research focuses on the geopolitical implications of climate change; infrastructure security of the U.S. food system; migration and refugees; extremism, terrorism, and counterterrorism; disaster response and recovery; Middle Eastern politics and society; and a variety of Intelligence Community issues. Her recent research includes understanding the risks of disruption of the U.S. food system due to public health emergencies like COVID-19 and climate change, the impact of including gender perspectives in Department of Defense operations, how to reduce both civilian harm during conflict and radicalization in refugee communities, and how climate change may impact the physical environment and security environment. Sudkamp spent twelve years at the Defense Intelligence Agency as an all-source senior intelligence analyst for Middle East and counterterrorism issues. She provided intelligence support to all levels of the defense enterprise, including four deployments in support of active military operations to multiple positions on the Joint Staff. Sudkamp received her B.S. in International Politics from Georgetown University’s Walsh School of Foreign Service, her M.A. in National Security and Strategic Studies from the Naval War College, and her MBA and M.A. in Food Studies from Chatham University.

Jeffrey Martini is an associate director of the Strategy, Doctrine, and Resources Program, part of the RAND Arroyo Center. He is also a senior international defense researcher at RAND, where he analyzes the impact of U.S. military activities, and a professor of policy analysis at the Pardee RAND Graduate School. He has written operational histories, analyzed the deterrent impact of military modernization and new military deployments, and assessed the efficacy of security cooperation. He also has a specialty in political and security issues in the Middle East. Martini has published on Arab Gulf security, Syria stabilization, civil-military relations in Egypt, and generational divides within the Muslim Brotherhood. Martini spent four years living in the Arab world, including three as a Peace Corps volunteer in Morocco and one in Cairo, Egypt, where he was a 2007–08 fellow in the CASA Arabic language program. He speaks, reads, and writes modern standard Arabic and speaks Moroccan and Egyptian colloquial. Martini received his M.A. in Arabic studies from Georgetown University and his B.A. in political science and economics from Middlebury College.


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