How Computer Models Predict Where We’ll Go As Seas Rise

How Computer Models Predict Where We’ll Go As Seas Rise

A new modeling approach can help us better understand how policy decisions will influence human migration as sea levels rise across the globe.

The new study indicates that global policy decisions about greenhouse gas emissions, and a range of policy decisions that determine where people live and work in coastal areas, will determine whether people need to migrate as a result of sea level rise and where they may go.

The study also shows that best way to weigh the potential effects of these policies is to build new climate change models, computer-generated predictions of how and when global temperatures and landscapes will change.

“We’ve been looking at this problem the wrong way…”

“This paper homes in on policy as the key to managing climate change impacts,” says Elizabeth Fussell, an associate professor of population studies at Brown University’s Population Studies and Training Center. “Analyzing the effects of current and potential policies on sea-level rise can bring real data, real investigations, and real analyses to the table in political discussions that will shape our future.”

Global policy decisions will play a major role in determining not only how many people will migrate away from the coast due to climate change but also where those migrants will go, says lead author David Wrathall, an assistant professor at Oregon State University’s College of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences.

“We’ve been looking at this problem the wrong way,” Wrathall says. “We’ve been asking how many people will be vulnerable to sea level rise and assuming the same number of people will migrate. In reality, policies being made today and moving forward will exert a strong influence in shaping migration. People will move in very specific ways because of these policies.”

The researchers suggest that policymakers who are seeking to understand how their decisions affect migration cannot afford to experiment on vulnerable populations in the real world with expensive and potentially dangerous policies. Instead, decision-makers can anticipate the effects of realistic policy alternatives using simulations thanks to advances in computation and modeling, taking into account a wide range of economic policies, planning decisions, infrastructure investments, and adaptation measures.

For example, Wrathall says, some current tax codes incentivize businesses to locate near ports, which could potentially put whole industries at risk in the face of rising sea levels. High interest rates could prevent some homeowners from borrowing money to protect their coastal homes, which may cause them to leave. And global decisions about the management of greenhouse gas emissions could affect how quickly the planet warms and sea levels rise.

“Modeling allows us to look at all kinds of scenarios to identify the specific policies that might work to help people migrate and anticipate the policies that cause problems,” Wrathall says.

“Whatever losses and damage are caused by sea level rise, they are human losses—so understanding how humans react to changes, and how policy drives those changes, is crucial,” Fussell says.

The paper appears in Nature Climate Change. The report comes from Fussell and 19 other members of an international research network the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center at the University of Maryland assembled. The University of Maryland and the National Science Foundation funded the research.

Original Study

About the Authors

Elizabeth Fussell is an associate professor of population studies at Brown University’s Population Studies and Training Center. Lead author David Wrathall is an assistant professor at Oregon State University’s College of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences.

enafarzh-CNzh-TWdanltlfifrdeiwhihuiditjakomsnofaplptruesswsvthtrukurvi

follow InnerSelf on

facebook icontwitter iconyoutube iconinstagram iconpintrest iconrss icon

 Get The Latest By Email

Weekly Magazine Daily Inspiration

LATEST VIDEOS

The Great Climate Migration Has Begun
The Great Climate Migration Has Begun
by Super User
The climate crisis is forcing thousands around the world to flee as their homes become increasingly uninhabitable.
The Last Ice Age Tells Us Why We Need To Care About A 2℃ Change In Temperature
The Last Ice Age Tells Us Why We Need To Care About A 2℃ Change In Temperature
by Alan N Williams, et al
The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) states that without a substantial decrease…
Earth Has Stayed Habitable For Billions Of Years – Exactly How Lucky Did We Get?
Earth Has Stayed Habitable For Billions Of Years – Exactly How Lucky Did We Get?
by Toby Tyrrell
It took evolution 3 or 4 billion years to produce Homo sapiens. If the climate had completely failed just once in that…
How Mapping The Weather 12,000 Years Ago Can Help Predict Future Climate Change
How Mapping The Weather 12,000 Years Ago Can Help Predict Future Climate Change
by Brice Rea
The end of the last ice age, around 12,000 years ago, was characterised by a final cold phase called the Younger Dryas.…
The Caspian Sea Is Set To Fall By 9 Metres Or More This Century
The Caspian Sea Is Set To Fall By 9 Metres Or More This Century
by Frank Wesselingh and Matteo Lattuada
Imagine you are on the coast, looking out to sea. In front of you lies 100 metres of barren sand that looks like a…
Venus Was Once More Earth-like, But Climate Change Made It Uninhabitable
Venus Was Once More Earth-like, But Climate Change Made It Uninhabitable
by Richard Ernst
We can learn a lot about climate change from Venus, our sister planet. Venus currently has a surface temperature of…
Five Climate Disbeliefs: A Crash Course In Climate Misinformation
The Five Climate Disbeliefs: A Crash Course In Climate Misinformation
by John Cook
This video is a crash course in climate misinformation, summarizing the key arguments used to cast doubt on the reality…
The Arctic Hasn't Been This Warm For 3 Million Years and That Means Big Changes For The Planet
The Arctic Hasn't Been This Warm For 3 Million Years and That Means Big Changes For The Planet
by Julie Brigham-Grette and Steve Petsch
Every year, sea ice cover in the Arctic Ocean shrinks to a low point in mid-September. This year it measures just 1.44…

LATEST ARTICLES

green energy2 3
Four Green Hydrogen Opportunities for the Midwest
by Christian Tae
To avert a climate crisis, the Midwest, like the rest of the country, will need to fully decarbonize its economy by…
ug83qrfw
Major Barrier to Demand Response Needs to End
by John Moore, On Earth
If federal regulators do the right thing, electricity customers across the Midwest may soon be able to earn money while…
trees to plant for climate2
Plant These Trees To Improve City Life
by Mike Williams-Rice
A new study establishes live oaks and American sycamores as champions among 17 “super trees” that will help make cities…
north sea sea bed
Why We Must Understand Seabed Geology To Harness The Winds
by Natasha Barlow, Associate Professor of Quaternary Environmental Change, University of Leeds
For any country blessed with easy access to the shallow and windy North Sea, offshore wind will be key to meeting net…
3 wildfire lessons for forest towns as Dixie Fire destroys historic Greenville, California
3 wildfire lessons for forest towns as Dixie Fire destroys historic Greenville, California
by Bart Johnson, Professor of Landscape Architecture, University of Oregon
A wildfire burning in hot, dry mountain forest swept through the Gold Rush town of Greenville, California, on Aug. 4,…
China Can Meet Energy and Climate Goals Capping Coal Power
China Can Meet Energy and Climate Goals Capping Coal Power
by Alvin Lin
At the Leader’s Climate Summit in April, Xi Jinping pledged that China will “strictly control coal-fired power…
Blue water surrounded by dead white grass
Map tracks 30 years of extreme snowmelt across US
by Mikayla Mace-Arizona
A new map of extreme snowmelt events over the last 30 years clarifies the processes that drive rapid melting.
A plane drops red fire retardant on to a forest fire as firefighters parked along a road look up into the orange sky
Model predicts 10-year burst of wildfire, then gradual decline
by Hannah Hickey-U. Washington
A look at the long-term future of wildfires predicts an initial roughly decade-long burst of wildfire activity,…

 Get The Latest By Email

Weekly Magazine Daily Inspiration

New Attitudes - New Possibilities

InnerSelf.comClimateImpactNews.com | InnerPower.net
MightyNatural.com | WholisticPolitics.com | InnerSelf Market
Copyright ©1985 - 2021 InnerSelf Publications. All Rights Reserved.