Zahra Nourali, Julie E. Shortridge, Anamaria Bukvic, Yang Shao, Jennifer L. Irish

Simulation of Flood-Induced Human Migration at the Municipal Scale: A Stochastic Agent-Based Model of Relocation Response to Coastal Flooding

  • Water Science and Technology
  • Aquatic Science
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Biochemistry

Human migration triggered by flooding will create sociodemographic, economic, and cultural challenges in coastal communities, and adaptation to these challenges will primarily occur at the municipal level. However, existing migration models at larger spatial scales do not necessarily capture relevant social responses to flooding at the local and municipal levels. Furthermore, projecting migration dynamics into the future becomes difficult due to uncertainties in human–environment interactions, particularly when historic observations are used for model calibration. This study proposes a stochastic agent-based model (ABM) designed for the long-term projection of municipal-scale migration due to repeated flood events. A baseline model is demonstrated initially, capable of using stochastic bottom-up decision rules to replicate county-level population. This approach is then combined with physical flood-exposure data to simulate how population projections diverge under different flooding assumptions. The methodology is applied to a study area comprising 16 counties in coastal Virginia and Maryland, U.S., and include rural areas which are often overlooked in adaptation research. The results show that incorporating flood impacts results in divergent population growth patterns in both urban and rural locations, demonstrating potential municipal-level migration response to coastal flooding.

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