Sea Level Rise Migration

New research by Dr. Mathew Hauer, Director of the Applied Demography Program at the University of Georgia, focuses on Sea Level Rise (SLR) and its potential impacts on the US population landscape. His work was recently published in the journal Nature Climate Change under the title, “Migration induced by sea-level rise could reshape the US population landscape“.

Over time, additional warming has led to an increase in sea ice melting and expanding to contribute to gradual sea level rise (SLR) with lasting effects. With the growth of coastal populations, and over 1 billion people currently living in lower-elevation coastal zones, there could be a large migration (especially of lower income families) of people to escape rising waters.

Many densely populated areas, i.e. coastal megacities, exist along the coast as well as in low lying floodplains. These areas are highly susceptible to flooding and inundation. A 1.8 m rise by the end of the 21st century may submerge some of these areas, including the U.S. where an estimated 13.1 million Americans may be at risk of sea-level rise related migration.

Some highly vulnerable states including Florida (Miami, in particular) and Alabama may lose large populations of people, whereas nearby states such as Texas and Georgia may see an influx of new residents in their cities and towns.