Thursday, February 06, 2020

Modeling Migration from Rising Seas

Earlier today we explored how the rate of sea level rise is increasing around the United States. That post ended with news that nearly 40% of the U.S, population lives near a coastline. If sea levels rise by 5 feet 11 inches then 13.1 million people in America will be at risk of losing their homes.

A new study by scientists from the University of Southern California, the Georgia Institute of Technology and the University of Waterloo examines how sea level rise will effect internal migration in the United States. In Modeling migration patterns in the USA under sea level rise a model of predicted sea level rise was coupled with population models to visualize how and where people will be effected by migration caused by rising seas by the end of this century.

The map above shows how counties across the country will be effected by migration caused by sea level change. The counties colored blue on the map will be the most directly effected. If sea levels rise by six feet then these counties will be prone to flooding and people will have to migrate to other counties. Counties on the map which are colored pink and red will experience higher than normal levels of incoming migration as people from the coast are forced to move inland. You can see that many of the darker counties (those which will see the biggest population increases) are close to counties that will experience the most direct effects of rising sea levels.

Counties in the southeast of the United States, such as those in New Orleans and Miami, have large populations living in areas which will experience flooding. The East Coast and the eastern United States as a whole will be more effected than the West Coast because of the large coastal population centers on the East Coast and the shallower coastlines.

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