The Evolving Arctic Operating Environment: Implications for Defence

Donald A. Neill

Abstract


Effective planning for DND/CF activities in the far north requires as reliable an understanding as may reasonably be achieved of how the Arctic operating environment is likely to evolve. The inherent unpredictability of complex interdependent systems like climate requires that theoretical projections of future climate states be validated against observed data if they are to be used as a basis for defence planning. This paper does so, and concludes that according to observed climatic trends, it does not appear likely that climate change will significantly alter the operating environment in the Arctic within the outermost limits of the DND/CF planning horizon (i.e., 10-30 years). This in turn suggests that the prudent course is to adopt strategies and policies that will enable DND/CF to continue to operate in the far north regardless of how the Arctic operating environment may incrementally evolve.

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JMSS is a publication of the Centre for Military, Security and Strategic Studies at the University of Calgary.

JMSS gratefully acknowledges the financial support of the Social Science and Humanities Research Council.