Climate Change and Military Power: Hunting for Submarines in the Warming Ocean (Spring 2024)

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Texas National Security Review


Climate change will have significant effects on military power, capabilities, effectiveness, and employment. Yet, scholars have paid little attention to this topic. We address this gap by investigating the effects of changing ocean conditions on anti-submarine warfare. Anti-submarine warfare capabilities exploit various physical phenomena to detect enemy submarines, principally underwater sound propagation. Underwater sound propagation depends on factors influenced by climate change, such as water temperature and salinity. Through ocean-acoustic simulations, we estimate the effect of climate change on the detection range of enemy submarines in the North Atlantic and in the Western Pacific. Our results show that, in most areas, the range of detection through underwater acoustics is contracting due to climate change.


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