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Credit: Marko Ercegović, EXIT Photo Team.

As sea levels rise and coastal flooding increases over the next several decades, millions of Americans may need to move inland.

Mathew Hauer of the University of Georgia is studying where these climate migrants are likely to go.

Hauer: “We know that people are most likely to move short distances, and we also know that they’re most likely to move in concert with their social networks, their kin networks, their friend networks and so on. And the last thing we know is that people are likely to move for economic reasons.”

He says that if seas rise about six feet by the end of the century, 13 million people are likely to move away from the coasts. Of them, 800,000 could move to the Austin, Texas area. And nearly half a million could go to Orlando.

If seas rise about six feet by 2100, 13 million people are likely to move away from the coasts. Click To Tweet

These figures are based on high scenarios of sea-level rise, but Hauer says the possible long-term impacts are important for cities to consider.

Hauer: “These are the kinds of considerations that go into water resources and water reservoir building, major roadways and major bridges, and those kinds of infrastructure.”

So even places that will stay high and dry need to start planning now for how they will accommodate people fleeing rising seas.

Reporting credit: Justyna Bicz/ChavoBart Digital Media.

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