Climate migrants: where will they go?

“With climate-fueled hurricanes, wildfires, and other climate-related disasters intensifying, climate migration is on the minds of communities and researchers. Around the globe, more than 216 million people could be forced to move due to climate change by 2050, according to a 2021 World Bank report. By 2100, 13 million U.S. residents could be displaced by sea level rise alone.

The topic of climate migration leads to numerous questions, from “Where will people move?” to “How can communities prepare for new residents?” As researchers grapple with the scale of climate migration and work to study potential migration patterns and social justice implications, many are also asking questions like, “What does home mean?” and “What does it mean to be from a place and live there?” Pulling up roots and moving somewhere else is often not an easy choice” (see: Climate migrants find a home in the Great Lakes Region — Kristen Pope in Yale Climate Connections, July 21, 2023).

Featured articles:

*Derek, V. B., Kalafatis, S., Gibbons, B., Naud, M., & Lemos, M. C. (2022). Planning for Climate Migration in Great Lake Legacy Cities. Earth’s Future, 10(10), e2022EF002942. [PDF] [Cited by]

“The possibility that climate change might make the Great Lakes region (GLR) [United States] a more attractive place for people to live has gained traction and attracted media attention. Compared with the dry Southwest, the storm-ridden Gulf region and the sea-level rise exposed East and West Coasts, the GLR may fare relatively favorably due to an abundance of natural resources and projected climate amenities. While the emergence and character of such migration is still uncertain, it is essential that GLR urban communities proactively prepare and plan for such a potential future. Understanding how these shifts might affect residents of GLR communities will be critical for a just and sustainable future and for avoiding exacerbating existing inequalities and climate vulnerabilities. Here we propose new scalable methodologies for inclusive engagement that enable wide-reaching knowledge co-creation (e.g., web-based engagement) that can meet the emergent and diverse challenges communities will face. These methodologies have the potential to not only broaden participation and improve practitioners’ understanding of different GLR communities’ preferences, but also to anticipate emerging tensions and potential synergies associated with increased population pressures.”

*Hauer, M. E. (2017). Migration induced by sea-level rise could reshape the US population landscape. Nature Climate Change, 7(5), 321-325. [PDF] [Cited by]

“Many sea-level rise (SLR) 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, SLR scholarship focusing solely on coastal communities characterizes SLR as primarily a coastal issue, obscuring the potential impacts in landlocked communities created by SLR-induced displacement. Here I address this issue by merging projected populations at risk of SLR with migration systems simulations to project future destinations of SLR migrants in the United States. I find that unmitigated SLR is expected to reshape the US 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 establish a new foundation for modelling potential migration destinations from climate stressors in an era of global environmental change.”

See also —

Climate change and human migration (from Science Bibliographies Online)

Migration due to climate change is already happening in the United States

Hundreds of millions of climate migrants likely by 2050

Sea level rise and climate change: impact on the economy and migration

For more information, see Science Primary Literature (database).

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