A radar-like image showing a large hurricane in the gulf of mexico. The storm is colored by rain/intensity, showing green bands on the outside, and yellow and orange in the interior. The water is blue and the nearby land is green.

Climate Change Technology for National Security

Climate change is one of the most pressing issues of our time. The effects of a warming planet are destroying ecosystems, threatening critical infrastructure, intensifying weather, and creating conditions incompatible with human life. While such impacts are felt around the globe, communities most burdened by climate change are also those with the least resources to cope. These destabilizing forces and widening disparities are a significant risk to national and global security.

Lincoln Laboratory has established a major initiative to help address climate change, with a focus on solving some of the most crucial and challenging technical problems consistent with our mission. This initiative is growing our investments in climate change R&D and increasing our collaborations within the United States and around the world to innovate new systems and solutions. Across these efforts, we are bringing together multidisciplinary expertise — in areas such as systems analysis, sensing, artificial intelligence, data analytics, and decision support — to help us contribute to the global response to this threat.

INTERNAL INVESTMENTS

The Technology Office has established a portfolio for climate change R&D. These projects span what we see as the six steps to addressing climate change: mitigating anthropogenic drivers, observing the climate, modeling the climate, predicting impacts, adapting, and remediating. This framework enables us to link our ideas across this solution spectrum and prioritize efforts.

three people stand on a big dirt pile, outside, with blue sky in the background. One researcher is holding a laptop, which another looks at. The third person is holding a remote, controlling a robotic vehicle also on the dirt pile.

Success in Collaboration

Climate change technology is inherently tied to our mission. Our R&D is applied every day to climate challenges, from space imagers that see Earth in new ways, to radars that provide early warning of severe weather, to sensors that can detect disaster survivors under rubble. Collaboration with government sponsors, academia, and users on the ground inspire us and facilitate the development of new tools for the greater good.

Humanitarian aid & disaster response

Our work in disaster relief systems has been ongoing since the devastating 2010 earthquake in Haiti. Today, we work with federal agencies, such as FEMA, and nongovernmental organizations to create tools to improve evacuation planning, develop lidar sensors to assess damage, and engineer solar-powered water systems to help communities recover.

Extreme Storms

With NASA, NOAA, and many universities, we developed a team of satellites instrumented with novel radiometers to constantly monitor Earth's tropical belt. The data from this mission are helping scientists study the dynamics of tropical storms and the factors that are driving them to intensify faster than ever.

Green Computing

Supercomputers consume megawatts of electrical power around the clock. Laboratory engineers helped establish a consortium of universities and companies dedicated to green computing. As a result, our most powerful computers, the TX-Green and Green AI Accelerator, are deployed in a shared center that runs 100 percent carbon free.

Energy resilience

The U.S. energy infrastructure is especially vulnerable to climate-related impacts. We work with the Department of Energy, MIT, and other agencies to provide analyses that help the government improve energy architectures, to run simulations to protect grids against outages, and to design microgrids that serve communities during disasters.
An overhead image of a neighborhood inundated with water.

MIT Climate Grand Challenges

This whole-of-MIT initiative aims to deliver high-impact solutions that could move the needle on the world’s climate response. In Spring 2022, MIT selected five flagship projects from among nearly 100 initial proposals. Lincoln Laboratory is co-leading one these projects, aimed at reinventing climate change adaptation: the Climate Resilience Early Warning System Network (CREWSnet).

RELATED RESOURCES

Publications

Near-term regional climate change over Bangladesh

Jul 5
Clim. Dyn., Vol. 57, July 2021, pp. 3055-73.

Partner With Us

Learn more about ways to sponsor, collaborate on, or access our research and development in climate solutions.

Quote

The Department of Defense has identified climate change as a critical national security issue and threat multiplier.

Climate Change 2021: The Physical Science Basis

The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recently published its 6th Assessment Report.

MIT Climate Portal

Access MIT's central portal to all work on climate change happening across the Institute and to MIT's Climate Primer, a comprehensive resource that explains the science and risks of climate change.