Rising sea to displace 500,000 New Orleans area residents, study says; see where they might go

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[A half million Louisiana climate migrants... *RON*]

 Tristan Baurick, NOLA.com | Times-Picayune, 20 April 2017

FloodMovers
Pontchatoula residents flee rising waters in 2016. A new study predicts that thousands of Louisiana residents will be heading to Texas and other states to avoid rising sea levels over the next century. (Photo by Ted Jackson, Nola.com | The Times-Picayune)

Texas, brace yourself. Over the next 83 years, a half-million southeast Louisiana "climate migrants" might be headed your way.

A study published this week predicts that sea level rise will push hundreds of thousands of people out of U.S. coastal cities such as New Orleans. It says the population will boom in nearby inland cities such as Austin.

The University of Georgia study is considered the first detailed look at how inland cities might be affected by sea level rise. It estimates more than than 500,000 people will flee the seven-parish New Orleans area by 2100 due to sea level rise and the problems that come with it, including frequent flooding and greater exposure to storm surges. That's more than one third of metro New Orleans's current population.

Here's why La.'s coastal crisis is the worst in the U.S. Nowhere else in the country is as threatened by subsidence and sea level rise

The study predicts that about two thirds of coastal Louisianans will move to higher ground but still within the state. The rest are seen as bound for Texas and, to a much lesser extent, Mississippi and Georgia.
These inland refuges might want to plan ahead for the challenges that come with steeply rising populations, said Mathew Hauer, the study's lead author. "We tend to think of sea level rise as just a coastal issue," he said Wednesday (April 19) after his findings were published in the journal Nature Climate Change. "But a lot of people will have to move inland if we don't do adaptive management."
Across the United States, the study estimates, 13 million people will be displaced by sea level rise under a scenario in which some efforts are taken to mitigate the impacts of sea level rise. The biggest draw, it predicts, will be Austin, gaining 600,00 to 800,000 people on top of the metro area's current estimated population of 2.1 million. Other inland cities likely to grow substantially include Orlando, Fla., Atlanta and Phoenix.
These cities will likely need more power, water, schools, roads and other infrastructure, Hauer said. Some expected landlocked destinations such as Las Vegas and Riverside, Calif. are already struggling to manage rapid growth and dwindling water supplies.


This circular plot shows how sea level rise is expected to trigger migration from coastal areas to inland destinations. Tick marks show the number of migrants (inflows and outflows) in thousands. States are ordered clockwise by the size of inflows. The top ten outflow states are colored, and all other states are gray. States are abbreviated to two-letter codes. Louisiana is shown at the bottom in blue. Texas is in orange to the right. (Image courtesy of Mathew Hauer, University of Georgia)
The study's predictions are based on almost 25 years of migration data from the Internal Revenue Service. Hauer amplified the historic flow of people from low-lying coastal areas and steered them to where jobs are plentiful and family and social connections already exist. 
"Most people move a short distance, and they like to go where there's economic opportunities or kin ties and a social network," Hauer said. "That's why people (in Louisiana) are less likely to go to, say Lincoln, Nebraska, and why many people would go to Austin, where there's a good economy and there are already family ties."
The exodus after Hurricane Katrina matches Hauer's predictions. Most people displaced by the storm settled close to Louisiana, with Houston, Dallas and Atlanta ranking as some of the biggest draws.

This map shows how sea level rise is expected to shift the U.S. population over the next 100 years. Coastal areas shown in red and orange, including parts of Louisiana, will see big population drops. Inland cities in Texas, Georgia and Arizona will experience big gains. (Image courtesy of Mathew Hauer, University of Georgia)
Climate migration could be partially averted if coastal states adapt to sea level rise. That could include sea walls, pumps, beach and marsh restorations and large-scale home elevation projects.
But such measures are expensive. Hauer estimates that needed adaptations in U.S. coastal communities could cost $1.1 trillion. Louisiana's ambitious $50 billion, 50-year coastal master plan has a host of adaptive measures, but actual funding is falling about $30 billion short.

La.'s coastal master plan unanimously OK'd by state panel $50 billion, 50-year plan to save coast, protect from storms, now goes to Legislature
People and governments with less money are less likely to adapt, Hauer said. Households with incomes greater than $100,000 per year are more likely to elevate their homes or pay the rising insurance costs. Those earning less will move or suffer the consequences.
"What I hope people take away from this is that sea level rise isn't just a coastal issue," he said. "Sea level rise isn't an immediate or pulse event; it's a gradual change. There is time to plan ahead."

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