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Navy's Top Oceanographer Speaking at ODU on Climate Change

Rear Adm. David Titley

Climate change from the perspective of the U.S. Navy will be the topic of a public lecture by Rear Adm. David W. Titley, the Oceanographer and Navigator of the Navy, on Thursday, Dec. 2, at Old Dominion University.

This Blue Planet Forum presentation is sponsored by the ODU Office of Community Engagement, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Nauticus sea exhibit facility. The forum in the Big Blue Room of the Ted Constant Convocation Center will begin at 6:30 p.m. Free parking will be provided in the ODU garage across 43rd Street from the convocation center.

Titley, who serves as commander of Navy Task Force Climate Change, has been involved for years in the service's climate change assessment and adaptation planning. This is bringing port modifications in anticipation of sea level rise, not only at U.S. naval stations, but also at bases shared with allies and partners overseas.

The Navy's leaders have been "proactive" on climate change, Titley said in a telephone interview. "They have given me marching orders to take a hard look at this, and the more you look at the data the more you realize we have to do some very different things in the 21st century. We certainly see this as a national security issue, among others."

Titley pointed out just how varied the Navy considers the potential ramifications of climate change to be. For example, the service is looking at social - and possibly, political - disruptions that could be caused in certain parts of the world by changes in rainfall patterns, temperature increases, food shortages or population migrations.

He said his talk on Dec. 2 will touch on climate change planning in times of tight budgets. Assessments and adaptation strategies developed now, before seas rise to levels predicted for later in the century, will probably save money in the long run, he explained. "I can't speak for local or state governments, but I can say for the Navy that when we do deliberate planning in a non-crisis environment we have better information and make better decisions than if we get caught by surprise or ignore a challenge until it becomes a crisis."

Titley's visit to ODU is timed to help kick off an initiative launched by the university's president, John R. Broderick, that will focus research and educational strategies on sea level rise as it applies to an urban coastal environment such as Hampton Roads. In addition to his public lecture, the rear admiral will meet privately with faculty and students in one session, and with community and business leaders in another session.

Karen Travis, who heads ODU's Office of Community Engagement, said that the university becoming involved in a multidisciplinary way in sea level rise research and education is "precisely what we are hoping to achieve with our new program for the Study of Critical Issues." She said a fund established by Doug and Patricia Perry, the benefactors of the university's Perry Library, is making the program possible.

"Thanks to the Perrys, we will be able to pull together the university's and region's foremost experts to help identify the multifaceted impact of climate change and rising sea levels on our region. We will also be asking community leaders, business and industry heads, and our own faculty to identify and examine other pressing issues facing Hampton Roads."

This article was posted on: November 29, 2010

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