Sea Level Rise and Migration: Understanding Future Climate-Driven Population Movements to the Atlanta Region
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As climate change leads to higher sea levels and stronger storms, many coastal cities will be increasingly at risk of a major local disaster destroying homes and vital urban infrastructure. Hurricane Katrina demonstrated how such a disaster can result in displacement of many citizens and how their social connections or existing disaster management procedures push them towards other cities, where they may settle permanently. Atlanta, as a major population center and transportation nexus for the south, should expect to receive high numbers of people forced to flee other southern cities in similar scenarios. This paper describes Atlanta’s migration shed: which coastal areas typically send people to Atlanta, which are at highest risk of future climate change impacts, and how many people could leave these areas for Atlanta. The analysis includes examinations of disaster and non-disaster migrations and sea level rise and storm vulnerability geographies in southern coastal counties. The final section consists of recommendations for a reevaluation of disaster preparedness considerations from a larger regional perspective.