SOFIA, Bulgaria - Four research scientists from three diverse labs traveled more than 5,700 miles to share the expanse of ERDC’s research capabilities at a technology demonstration for the U.S. European Command (EUCOM) and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization Crisis Management and Disaster Response Centre of Excellence (NATO CMDR COE) in Sofia, Bulgaria, Dec. 11-12.
They have already been asked for a return engagement.
Working together as a team for the first time, Dr. Sandra Brasfield and Dr. Eric Britzke represented ERDC’s Environmental Laboratory; Dr. Mark Jourdan presented for the Coastal and Hydraulics Laboratory; and Swathi Veeravalli brought expertise from the Topographic Engineering Center.
Their technical exchanges centered on climate change assessment, hydrological modeling, available geospatial tools for visualizing climate change, socio-cultural aspects of water security and implications of climate change on military activities.
“Due to the complexity of this topic area and because this elicitation effort was the first phase of our engagement with EUCOM, a larger, more diverse team was more effective to represent the breadth of ERDC’s research perspectives,” Brasfield said.
ERDC scientists were initially invited to participate as the result of an earlier proposal.
“We wrote a proposal in response to the FY13 Defense Environmental International Cooperation (DEIC) program statement of need on military adaptation to climate change.
“The aim of our proposal was to transition the current Environmental Quality and Installations (EQ/I)-funded approach to another landscape. Once engaged, they expressed interest in other technologies, so the team was adjusted. ERDC has involvement in other EUCOM projects, but to my knowledge, this is the first visit to the NATO CMDR COE in Bulgaria,” Brasfield said.
Initial climate change focus
This NATO CMDR COE was just established in Sofia, Bulgaria, in late 2012.
“Bulgaria’s recent interest in climate change drove the interest for this EUCOM activity to be hosted there. Future engagements may be more regional in nature, and therefore the venue may be more central to the region to maximize participation.
“At this conference, high-level engagement from Bulgaria and the U.S. included opening remarks from Ivan Ivanov, Bulgaria's deputy minister of defence, and Marc Dillard, U.S Embassy deputy chief of mission (acting) and counselor for political and economic affairs.
“They spoke about their strong support for our engagement, how climate change was prioritized in national level policies, such as the 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review in the U. S. They challenged us to work together to identify solutions and a common path forward related to military adaptation to climate change,” Brasfield said.
ERDC return requested
Based on the success of the initial conference, ERDC’s researchers have been asked to return in FY14 for more focused technical information for this event, sponsored by the EUCOM Defense Environmental International Cooperation program.
“Hungary sent representatives to the first elicitation effort, and there is reason to believe Greece (with Athens 326 miles to the south) may also send representatives for the follow-on activities.
“The effort's ultimate goal is to transition ERDC technology and knowledge as it applies to climate change, allowing Bulgaria to secure regional cooperation and address military adaptation to climate change,” Brasfield said.