Climate change and population predictions: spatial variability in populations at risk for sea level rise

Katherine J. Curtis, University of Wisconsin at Madison
Annemarie Schneider, University of Wisconsin at Madison

Considerable popular and scientific attention has been given to the potential impacts of climate change on the human population. Despite recent technical and conceptual advances in this area, research focusing on human populations and climate change has not intersected to produce meaningful estimates of the demographic implications of climate change. We argue that the failure to connect the two processes on temporal and spatial dimensions undermines the value of data generated from climate and population models. The study objective is to demonstrate the value of examining spatial variability in time-correlated climate and population projections at the sub-national scale. This approach yields estimates of the demographic impacts of global warming due to greenhouse gas emissions for socially and politically significant geographic areas. We demonstrate the methodological approach by focusing on sea level rise and total population size for a select sample of counties in low-lying coastal zones within the United States.

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Presented in Poster Session 3: Migration, environment and spatial demography