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Observed climate change and variability has affected and will continue to affect USACE missions and operations. These observed variabilities include changes in drought intensity and frequency in the late 1970s and changing sea levels in the mid-1980s. These changes in the 1970s and 1980s were followed by studies on the economic impacts of climate change in the early 1990s. Prompted by Hurricane Katrina in the mid 2000s, USACE re-focused on land subsidence and changing sea levels. Around this same time, USACE began to feel the impacts of altered mountain snowpack and subsequent runoff patterns that impact floods and droughts. 

How Does Climate Change Affect USACE Mission Areas?

Climate change impacts affect water availability, water demand, water quality, stormwater and wastewater infrastructure, flood and coastal storm infrastructure, wildland fires, ecosystem functioning, coastal zone functioning, navigation, and energy production and demand. All of these factors affect the water resources projects operated by the Corps and its non-Federal sponsors. Many of these were designed and constructed before climate change was recognized as a potential influence.

The entire portfolio of USACE Civil Works water resources infrastructure and programs, existing and proposed, could be affected by climate change and adaptation to climate change. This affects design and operational assumptions about resource supplies, system demands or performance requirements, and operational constraints. Both droughts and floods can affect the operations of these projects. Numerous regulatory decisions made by USACE will need to be informed by climate change impacts and adaptation considerations throughout the U.S., especially in western states. 



reviewed 2 February 2017


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