Sea Level Rise and Migration

Full Title

A forecast of the timing, locations, sequence and likeliest destinations of populations displaced by sea level rise and coastal extremes


Over the coming centuries, the climate hazards with greatest potential to drive permanent human migration are the short- and long-term interaction of coastal extreme flooding and sea-level rise (SLR).  Recognizing that large, sudden migrations can be destabilizing (e.g. Syrian Refugee Crisis and the Post-Katrina Diaspora), understanding when, where and how future SLR will drive the planetary redistribution of the human population is both a science need and a policy demand. To address these needs, this Pursuit will undertake an initial risk survey on sudden, large-scale migration around SLR impacts.

To accomplish this goal we will (1) stimulate expert-level multidisciplinary exchange on both the physical science of SLR-induced hazards, and human population dynamics; (2) employ our team’s unique expertise developing key historical data sets, and model projections for both climate and population; (3) develop a novelglobal displacement “schedule” of the timing, locations, rate, and magnitude of coastal inundation and likeliest destinations of SLR-induced migration; (4) elaborate country-level assessments of risk for sudden, large-scale migration, i.e. times and locations in which certainty of SLR-related impacts is highest, and certainty of migration flow destinations is lowest; and (5) engage international climate policy processes, through our team’s unique profile, with grounded scenario-building and decision-oriented knowledge products. Our team is uniquely capable of conceptualizing, modeling and characterizing uncertainty around local, short-term coastal extremes, long-term rises in sea level, and future migration destinations. On the basis of this fundamental knowledge, by the end of this Pursuit, we will have envisioned and tested intervention scenarios for avoiding negative humanitarian and development outcomes: a step in future migrants’ journeys toward new, safe places to call home.

Project Type
Team Synthesis Project
Principal Investigators
Valerie Mueller, Arizona State University
Michael Oppenheimer, Princeton University
Peter Clark, Oregon State University
Robert Kopp, Rutgers
Aimee Berthe Agnes Slangen, Royal NIOZ
Glenn Milne, University of Ottawa
Elisabeth Gilmore, Clark University
Mathew E Hauer, University of Georgia
Elizabeth Marino, Oregon State Cascades
Alex de Sherbinin, Columbia University
Elizabeth Fussell, Brown University
Helen Joyce Adams, Kings College London
Bryan Jones, Baruch College
Carling Hay, Boston College
Don Phillip Chambers, University of South Florida
Andrew Bell, New York University
Joyce Chen, Ohio State University
Scott Kulp, Climate Central
Koko Warner, UNFCCC

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