Climate change driving population shifts to urban areas

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From Penn State News:

“Climate change is causing glaciers to shrink, temperatures to rise, and shifts in human migration in parts of the world, according to a Penn State researcher.

Brian Thiede, assistant professor of rural sociology, along with researchers from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and the International Food Policy Research Institute, examined the effects of climate change on human migration in South America, and found that abnormally high and low temperatures increased migration, with especially strong effects on moves to urban areas. The findings were published recently in the journal Global Environmental Change.

The researchers analyzed over 21 million census records of working-age adults from eight South American countries over almost four decades. ““There have recently been a number of high-quality studies of climate impacts on migration, but they tend to be narrow in geographic scope,” said Thiede. “This is one of the first studies to examine the link between climate change and migration using harmonized data from multiple countries over a long period of time.”

The researchers linked census data with historical rainfall and temperature data so they could draw conclusion on the effects of climate change on migration. “We found that changes in temperature had greater effects on migration than changes in rainfall, and that exposure to both extremely high and extremely low temperatures increased the likelihood of migration,” Thiede explained. “The effect of extreme temperatures was most consistent on movement to urban, rather than rural places. Each month of higher than normal temperatures led to an over three percent increase in migration to urban areas, whereas each month of lower than normal temperatures led to an almost ten percent increase in urban areas.”

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