The US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) is charged with missions to provide engineering services to protect more than 12 million acres of public lands, more than 900 ports and harbors, nearly 14,000 miles of levees and 12,000 miles of commercial inland waterways, and 400 miles of coastal shoreline. In addition, USACE provides roughly 3% of the nation's electrical power from hydroelectric plants at its dams, and has a key, first-responder role in times of national emergencies.

Nearly all of these missions are at some risk from potential effects of future climate and other global changes.

Over the last several years, USACE has been surveying the vulnerability and resilience of its installed infrastructure and of the water and land resources it manages for the Nation to characterize their potential for climate change adaptation measures. The goal of this work is to produce the practical, nationally consistent, and cost-effective measures that will reduce vulnerabilities and enhance resilience for sustaining our ability to meet our mission requirements and objectives under the conditions of future global change. In addition, climate change adaptation measures will be designed, engineered, and implemented while USACE also addresses the additional requirements of increased energy sustainability and reduced greenhouse gas emissions. USACE coordinates and integrates its climate change adaptation work through its Adaptation Steering Committee, having senior leader representation from USACE mission areas and its Major Subordinate Commands, and chaired by the USACE Chief of Engineering and Construction.

The approach USACE is taking is to work in close cooperation with other Federal agencies, both directly and through the multi-agency adaptation efforts coordinated by two US White House offices, the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) and the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). This approach of active cooperation with stakeholders and other Federal agencies having responsibilities for managing water- and land-resources helps ensure that the adaptation policies and guidance USACE produces can be based on the best science and engineering knowledge that can be used to support action on climate change adaptation and mitigation. This approach also gives USACE the capacity for phased implementation, continuing monitoring for surprise, and quick adjustment as knowledge or physical facts on the ground change in the future.

This talk highlights several of USACE's climate change adaptation efforts, including, among others:

  • Development of new guidance, produced together with other US Federal agencies including USGS and NOAA, to institute a nationwide, consistent vertical datum and comprehensive evaluations of all relevant USACE project elevations to ensure that heights of projects (levees, dams, jetties, etc.) are known accurately and precisely against current sea levels and for tracking sea level changes.

  • Development of Engineering Circular 1165–2–211 (2009) on sea-level change, and the current development of a new Civil Works Technical Letter based on that Circular for guidance to USACE operations on questions of responses to sea-level change at vulnerable projects.

  • A series of adaptation pilot studies at USACE projects for examining issues and testing methods and techniques for analysis of present and future climate change and possible adaptation strategies and engineering responses; these studies range from coastal and environmental projects to in-land hydrology and reservoir sedimentation questions.

  • Findings from some recent multi-agency reports which USACE co-led, "Climate Change and Water Resources Management: A Federal Perspective" (USGS Circular 1331, produced in 2009), and " Addressing Climate Change in Long-term Water Resou

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