Impacts of Climate Variability and Change on NASA Centers and Facilities

Related Research Areas
Carbon Cycle & Ecosystems, Climate Variability & Change, Water & Energy Cycles
Project Description
´┐╝In accordance with Executive Order 13514 dated October 5, 2009 the President mandates that all agencies evaluate vulnerabilities to climate variability and change in terms of how the changes would impact the mission and operations of the agencies. This proposal is a response to that mandate, and focuses on one of those centers: the NASA Ames Research Center (NASA ARC) located in Silicon Valley California. At this location NASA ARC conducts research and cooperatively works with local universities and research organizations located in the valley. Its mission categories include supercomputing, intelligent systems, astrobiology, nanotechnology, information technology, aviation, and others. NASA ARC has an infrastructure valued at $3.2 billion, employs approximately 2300 personnel, and has an annual budget of $600 million. NASA ARC is vulnerable to climate change due to its location adjacent to South San Francisco Bay. Studies underway or completed have identified potential climate change and impacts (see Those impacts include: - Increases in the frequency and intensity of extreme storms that could produce unprecedented flooding across the site. - Sea level rise that could exceed a meter by the end of the 21st century in conjunction with extreme high tides and storm surges. - Increase in extreme wind speeds that could impair aviation operations. - Increases in frequency, duration and severity of heat waves over the 21st century. As air temperature increases, air density decreases, and those changes could impact the performance of outdoor aviation operations. - Elevated groundwater table beneath NASA ARC from higher sea levels. If plumes of TCE that are present near the site migrate beneath on-site buildings, vapor could intrude into those buildings and pose a health risk to the occupants. - Impacts on the wetlands near the bayside base boundary. Wetlands can help to mitigate impacts of sea level rise and storm surge and provide habitat for many kinds of animals. - Habitat loss at other locations on the Center. For example, NASA ARC has allocated about 81 acres to the protection of the burrowing owl (a California species of special concern). To accomplish the goals of this proposed study, within one month from the beginning of the project, the project team will meet with the NASA climate scientists to discuss the technical scope of work and to set the way forward for the project. During the first few months of the project, current sources of information on climate change assessments at scales local to NASA ARC will be reviewed and an overview of projected impacts on NASA ARC will be developed. Over the course of the project, detailed assessments of projected climate change will be completed over the 21st century. The modeling work for this analysis will be based on downscaled results from numerous GCMs recommended by NASA, and possibly supplemented with models suggested by the project team. Then, impact analysis using runoff models (such as BASINS) and estuary hydrodynamic models (such as TRIM2D) will be undertaken building on prior work, if appropriate, using high resolution model projections as driving forces. Climate change impacts will be identified, and related to mission objectives of NASA ARC. The impacts will be assessed both at the base wide scale and at specific locations on NASA ARC, as impacts may be localized. The assessment will take into account how NASA ARC is envisioned to evolve over the coming years. Adaptation measures will be identified and evaluated. NASA will have an integral role in the project from beginning to end. Our proposed team will build on the work completed to date. By the completion of the project, NASA will be provided with all analytical results, data used in the analysis, reports prepared during the project, and alternatives to adapt to projected climate change impacts.
Project Administrator(s):
Cristina Milesi,
bill mills


Cristina Milesi
bill mills