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Glossary

"We need to build and use a consistent climate lexicon that will define and explain the threat we are up against and facilitate a coordinated and effective response to climate change implications for strategy, operations, infrastructure, acquisitions, and more."

CAROLINE BAXTER

DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF DEFENSE FOR FORCE EDUCATION & TRAINING


Key Terms

Tyndall Lodging Rebuild

Resilience

The ability to anticipate, prepare for, and adapt to changing conditions and withstand, respond to, and recover rapidly from disruptions.

A boat travels through a body of water behind a large iceberg.

Climate Change

Variations in average weather conditions that persist over multiple decades or longer that encompass increases and decreases in temperature, shifts in precipitation, and changing risk of certain types of severe weather events.

U.S. Navy Seabees with NMCB-5 repair the seawall on board White Beach Naval Facility

Adaptation

Adjustment in natural or human systems in anticipation of, or response to, a changing environment in a way that effectively uses beneficial opportunities or reduces negative efforts.

Solar project at Fort Hunter Liggett

Climate Change Mitigation

Measures to reduce the amount and speed of future climate change by reducing emissions of heat-trapping gases or removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Marine Corps Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr. speaks with students in an auditorium

Climate Literacy

Understanding how the climate impacts DOD missions, how DOD operations impact the climate, and how to make climate-informed decisions.

Team Offutt battles flood waters

Climate Vulnerability

Climate vulnerability of infrastructure, systems, people, organizations, missions, operations, or activities is comprised of three components—exposure, sensitivity, and adaptive capacity.

Drought

Climate

The average weather, or more rigorously, the statistical description in terms of the mean and variability of relevant quantities over a period of time ranging from months to thousands or millions of years. See more below.

Lightning Strikes behind aircraft on MacDill AFB

Weather

The short-term (minutes to days) variations in the atmosphere, characterized by the temperature, wind, precipitation, clouds, and other weather elements. See more below.


Complete Glossary

Download as PDF

DOD CLIMATE CHANGE COMMON LEXICON

Actionable Science

Theories, data, analyses, models, projections, scenarios, and tools that are:

  • Relevant to the decision under consideration.
  • Reliable in terms of its scientific or engineering basis and appropriate level of peer review.
  • Understandable to those making the decision.
  • Supportive of decisions across wide spatial, temporal, and organizational ranges, including those of time-sensitive operational and capital investment decision-making.
  • Co-produced by scientists, practitioners, and decision-makers and result in rigorous and accessible products to meet the needs of stakeholders.

SOURCE: DODD 4715.21 Climate Change Adaptation and Resilience

Adaptation

Adjustment in natural or human systems in anticipation of, or response to, a changing environment in a way that effectively uses beneficial opportunities or reduces negative efforts.

SOURCE: DODD 4715.21 Climate Change Adaptation and Resilience

Adaptive Capacity

The ability of infrastructure, systems, people, organizations, missions, operations, or activities to adjust to adverse impacts caused by a climate hazard.

SOURCE: DOD

Carbon Capture, Utilization, and Sequestration (CCUS)

Technologies that remove carbon pollution from the ambient air or from point sources like smokestacks and permanently store the carbon. CCUS technologies capture CO2 from fuel combustion or industrial processes, transport this CO2 via vehicle or pipeline, and either use it to create products or services or permanently store it deep underground in geological formations.

SOURCE: 2023 DOD Plan to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Climate

The average weather, or more rigorously, the statistical description in terms of the mean and variability of relevant quantities over a period of time ranging from months to thousands or millions of years. The classical period for averaging these variables is 30 years, as defined by the World Meteorological Organization. The relevant quantities are most often surface variables such as temperature, precipitation and wind. Climate in a wider sense is the state, including a statistical description, of the climate system.

SOURCE: Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

Climate Change

Variations in average weather conditions that persist over multiple decades or longer that encompass increases and decreases in temperature, shifts in precipitation, and changing risk of certain types of severe weather events.

SOURCE: DODD 4715.21 Climate Change Adaptation and Resilience

Climate Change Mitigation

Measures to reduce the amount and speed of future climate change by reducing emissions of heat-trapping gases or removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

SOURCE: 2021 DOD Climate Adaptation Plan

Climate Hazard

A process, phenomenon, or event related to changes in weather and climate that may cause disruption, degradation, damage, or other impacts to infrastructure, systems, people, organizations, missions, operations, or activities.

SOURCE: DOD

Climate Literacy

Understanding how the climate impacts DOD missions, how DOD operations impact the climate, and how to make climate-informed decisions.

SOURCE: DOD Climate Literacy Sub-Working Group; 2022 DOD Climate Adaptation Plan Progress Report

Climate Security

The effects of climate change on the following: (A) The national security of the United States, including national security infrastructure. (B) Subnational, national, and regional political stability. (C) The security of allies and partners of the United States. (D) Ongoing or potential political violence, including unrest, rioting, guerrilla warfare, insurgency, terrorism, rebellion, revolution, civil war, and interstate war.

SOURCE: 50 USC § 3060(e)(1)

Climate Vulnerability

Climate vulnerability of infrastructure, systems, people, organizations, missions, operations, or activities is comprised of three components—exposure, sensitivity, and adaptive capacity.

SOURCE: DOD

Environmental Justice

The fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people, regardless of race, color, national origin, or income, with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies.

SOURCE: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Exposure

The geographic proximity of infrastructure, systems, people, organizations, missions, operations, or activities to a climate hazard.

SOURCE: DOD

Greenhouse Gases

Gases in the Earth’s atmosphere that trap heat. Rising levels of greenhouse gases during the industrial era have contributed to an increase in global average temperatures.

SOURCE: Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

Hazard

A condition with the potential to cause injury, illness, or death of personnel; damage to or loss of equipment or property; or mission degradation.

SOURCE: DOD Dictionary

Resilience

The ability to anticipate, prepare for, and adapt to changing conditions and withstand, respond to, and recover rapidly from disruptions.

SOURCE: DODD 4715.21 Climate Change Adaptation and Resilience

Risk

Probability and severity of loss linked to threats or hazards and vulnerabilities.

SOURCE: DODD 3020.40 Mission Assurance

Sensitivity

The degree to which a climate hazard beneficially or adversely affects the intended function of infrastructure, systems, people, organizations, missions, operations, or activities.

SOURCE: DOD

Severe Weather

Any weather condition that poses a hazard to property or life.

SOURCE: Air Force Instruction 32-1015 Integrated Installation Planning

Weather

The short-term (minutes to days) variations in the atmosphere, characterized by the temperature, wind, precipitation, clouds, and other weather elements. Weather results from systems (e.g., low- and high-pressure systems, fronts, tropical cyclones) that rapidly develop and decay. Weather has only limited predictability (a week or two).

SOURCE: Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change