Climate-induced migration: applications and enhancements of the SSP framework

Organizers: Bryan Jones (CUNY), Jacob Schewe (PIK)


Climate-induced migration is increasingly recognized as an important, yet challenging area of study. It is crucial that planners and policy-makers, particularly in the world’s rapidly growing developing countries, account for the likely impacts of climate change on the spatial distribution of populations in order to ensure adequate access to food, water, services, and infrastructure. Similarly, understanding the impacts mitigation/adaptation policy may have on population outcomes is an important planning consideration.  Methods for addressing the climate-migration question have progressed from relatively simple exposure mapping to more sophisticated exercises characterizing climate impacts on economic livelihoods and mobility grounded in historic observation. The Shared Socioeconomic Pathways (SSPs), together with the Representative Concentration Pathways (RCPs), provide researchers with a new framework for investigating the dual impact of climate and societal change on migration patterns as well as the sensitivity of population outcomes to alternative climate/societal pathways. However, the migration decision is a complex, impacted by long list of socioeconomic, political, geographic, and environmental considerations.  Untangling the impact of climate on migration, and the mechanisms through which climate works to affect decisions, is a daunting task. 

In this research session we focus on current efforts to model climate-induced migration using the SSPs/RCPs, and, because the SSPs themselves do not explicitly consider the impacts of climate change, enhancements to the existing scenario framework that could improve this research. We welcome submissions making use of existing scenarios to assess the potential intensity and directionality of migration pathways, the sensitivity of these outcomes to alternative societal/climate pathways, as well as efforts to improve the data available in support of such efforts. Contributions from diverse academic disciplines are encouraged.