February 26, 2024

Flooding driven by climate change has caused millions of people to move, limiting growth in some areas and accelerating the decline of others, according to a new study. In the first two decades of the 21st century, over 7 million people have avoided or abandoned risky areas because of flooding threats. Climate change is intensifying hurricanes and increasing rainfall, prompting researchers to forecast the potential exodus of millions of Americans in the coming decades. First Street Foundation has found that climate change has created both winners and losers at a neighborhood level. Most people do not move very far from their current location, so moving patterns are more localized. Although Miami’s population is increasing, the risk of flooding is limiting growth to an extent. Detailed data analysis has identified areas with growth limitations due to flooding risks. This has led to declines in some established communities. Some regions, such as the Midwest, are projected to see a decrease in population due to flood risk. Access to information on flood history and the financial means to move play a role in decisions to relocate. However, winners are still identified in cities with low flood risk like Louisville, Detroit, and Chicago, these cities stand to benefit from climate change as they are considered safe places in a warming world.

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