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Rising sea levels predicted to force millions in the U.S. to relocate

PortandTerminal.com, January 23, 2020

LOS ANGELES, CA – A new study from the University of California’s Professor Bistra Dilkina and Caleb Robinson has found as many 13 million Americans could be forced to relocate due to rising sea levels by 2100.  While that may seem like a long way off, these forced relocations will occur within the lifespan of many young American children living today.

The study, published in PLOS ONE, Jan. 22, is the first to use machine learning to project migration patterns resulting from sea-level rise. The researchers found the impact of rising oceans will ripple across the country, beyond coastal areas at risk of flooding, as affected people move inland.

READ: What will happen to PortMiami as the sea levels continue to rise?

In the US alone, 13 million people could be forced to relocate due to rising sea levels by 2100. As a result, cities throughout the country will grapple with new populations. Effects could include more competition for jobs, increased housing prices, and more pressure on infrastructure networks.

Popular relocation choices will include land-locked cities such as Atlanta, Houston, Dallas, Denver and Las Vegas. The model also predicts suburban and rural areas in the Midwest will experience a disproportionately large influx of people relative to their smaller local populations.

“When migration occurs naturally, it is a great engine for economic activity and growth,” said co-author Juan Moreno Cruz, an economist and professor at the University of Waterloo.

Areas in blue are the ones most affected by sea-level rise. The shading in red/pink shows the degree to which migration patterns due to forced relocations will affect those areas.

“But when migration is forced upon people, productivity falls and human and social capital are lost as communities are broken apart. Understanding these migration decisions helps economies and policy makers prepare for what is to come and do as much as possible to make the influx of migration a positive experience that generates positive outcomes.”

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