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Georgia Sea Grant to coordinate studies on climate-induced population shifts

Story by: Emily Woodward Kenworthy, Georgia Sea Grant

Georgia Sea Grant was recently awarded a $500,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to study human displacement and relocation caused by climate change, and the societal and economic implications of such population shifts.


Georgia Sea Grant, based at the University of Georgia, will partner with 12 other Sea Grant programs in five regions across the U.S. to create a research coordination network called, “People on the Move in a Changing Climate,” bringing together practitioners, resource managers and coastal stakeholders.


“There are knowledge gaps in our understanding of how climate change drives human populations both towards and away from coastal regions in the U.S,” said Mark Risse, director of Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant.


Over the next three years, Risse and Mona Behl, associate director of Georgia Sea Grant, will guide the research coordination network in studying population shifts due to climate change, and examine the socioeconomic, cultural and policy frameworks that impact these shifts. Research outcomes will be shared through new education and outreach programs developed by Sea Grant programs that focus on resilience and adaptation.


One of the major goals of the project is to increase community participation in climate research and adaptation studies conducted in regions that have been identified as vulnerable. This will be accomplished by collaborating with the Sea Grant network of 34 programs that support coastal and great lakes communities through research, extension and education. For more than 50 years, Sea Grant programs across the country have worked to establish long, trusting relationships with communities by funding scientific research and working with residents and decision makers to develop local solutions to coastal and Great Lakes issues.


“Our goal is to study how changes in climate influence people’s decisions to leave their homes, and then to transfer this knowledge to communities and stakeholders to aid in their planning efforts,” says Mona Behl, principal investigator on the project.  


In addition to Risse and Behl, Karen DeMeester, a public assistant at UGA’s Carl Vinson Institute of Government, will serve as project evaluator in the grant.


Partners include Alaska Sea Grant, Delaware Sea Grant, Florida Sea Grant, Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant, Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium, National Sea Grant Law Center, New Jersey Sea Grant Consortium, New York Sea Grant, Ohio Sea Grant, Pennsylvania Sea Grant, South Carolina Sea Grant Consortium, University of Southern California Sea Grant and Washington Sea Grant.

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