Jonathon Cavitt

Graduate Student

About Jonathon

Jonathon Cavitt is a Ph.D. student with the University of Colorado Boulder’s Geography Department, working under the direction of his advisor, Mark Serreze. Cavitt comes to CU Boulder after several years in the private sector as an environmental scientist, where he advised a wide array of clients on adherence to environmental regulations. This work included: groundwater testing and remediation at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station (SFS), facility-wide compliance audits at Cheyenne Mountain SFS, air emission calculations and reporting for energy companies, spill prevention and countermeasures for the oil industry, facilitating environmental training programs, and managing pilot projects for innovative solutions to groundwater contamination. Working as an environmental scientist led Cavitt to an interest in global climate change, with particular regard to changes observed in the Arctic region. As a preliminary to his Ph.D., Cavitt pursued a master’s degree in philosophy, researching questions of national security that arise from the impacts of climate change. This research, which continues to be a central focus of Cavitt’s work, points to a need for collaboration between civilian climatologists and the US Department of Defense. At NSIDC, Cavitt enjoys combining his professional experience and passion for investigation with an engaging academic culture. His aim is to better understand and prepare for the impacts of global climate change.


Environmental policy, air pollution, groundwater pollution, Arctic weather and climate, Arctic amplification, impacts of sea-level rise, national and global security issues related to climate change

Current Research

The Security Risks of Climate Change: The Need for Data Partnerships between Civilian Climatologists and the Department of Defense. Department of Defense (DoD) satellite programs possess spaciotemporal resolutions vastly superior to satellite platforms available to civilian climatologists. While DoD platforms concentrate on issues related to national and global security, they do not, in a specific sense, currently assess the security threats associated with climate change. However, current changes in oceanographic, atmospheric, and terrestrial systems give rise to: sociopolitical tensions on a global scale, disagreements over territorial sovereignty, and conflicts regarding rightful ownership and use of natural resources. While DoD satellite platforms are not primarily intended for gathering information about the natural environment, previous studies have demonstrated the feasibility of expanding the current scope of these platforms for the purpose of gaining a better understanding of the climate system. In addition to this improved understanding, climate scientists could also use data from DoD platforms to assess impacts of climate change on military infrastructure and overall mission readiness. Framed within the context of open questions in the Arctic climate system, this research explores the potential for partnerships between civilian climatologists and the DoD—partnerships supportive to a better understanding of the climate system, as well as a means of identifying and addressing national and global security threats posed by climate change. Source of support: United States Air Force and the United States Department of Veterans Affairs


B.S., Environmental Policy and Planning, Virginia Polytechnic and State University, 2000