Sea level rise induced migration could reshape the United States population landscape

Authors: Mathew Hauer*, University of Georgia
Topics: Coupled Human and Natural Systems, Population Geography
Keywords: sea level rise, migration, climate change
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/13/2018
Start / End Time: 5:20 PM / 7:00 PM
Room: Napoleon B1, Sheraton 3rd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Many sea level rise assessments focus on populations presently inhabiting vulnerable coastal communities, but to date no studies have attempted to model the destinations of these potentially displaced persons. With millions of potential future migrants in heavily populated coastal communities, sea level rise scholarship focusing solely on coastal communities characterizes sea level rise as primarily a coastal issue, obscuring the potential impacts in landlocked communities created by sea level rise induced displacement. Here I address this issue by merging projected populations at-risk of sea level rise with migration systems simulations to project future destinations of sea level rise migrants in the United States (U.S.). I find that unmitigated sea level rise is expected to reshape the U.S. population distribution, potentially stressing landlocked areas unprepared to accommodate this wave of coastal migrants– even after accounting for potential adaptation. These results provide the first glimpse of how climate change will reshape future population distributions and establishes a new foundation for modelling potential migration destinations from climate stressors in an era of global environmental change.

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