Reaching Higher Ground: Avenues to Secure and Manage New Land for Communities Displaced by Climate Change
Maxine Burkett, Robert R.M. Verchick and David Flores
Center for Progressive Reform, May 2017

Countless communities across the United States are at risk of having to migrate because of rising sea levels. This report lays out the legal and policy tools available for displaced communities seeking relocation. It outlines strategies for land acquisition, preservation and governance and for garnering government and nonprofit support.


Impediments to Inland Resettlement under Conditions of Accelerated Sea Level Rise
Charles Geisler and Ben Currens
Land Use Policy, July 2017

Recent research suggests that sea level rise may endanger coastal zones sooner than expected, causing significant coastal migrations. This research identifies inland barriers to relocation and estimates their toll on inland resettlement space. The article shows the need for proactive adaptation strategies extending landward and illustrates this with land use planning responses in Florida and China. (Paywall)

The Increasing Rate of Global Mean Sea-Level Rise during 1993–2014
Xianyao Chen, Xuebin Zhang, John A. Church, Christopher S. Watson, Matt A. King, Didier Monselesan, Benoit Legresy, and Christopher Harig
Nature Climate Change, June 2017

Global mean sea level has been rising at a faster rate from 1993 to 2014 than previous during decades and is expected to accelerate further over the coming century. This acceleration highlights the importance and urgency of mitigating climate change and formulating coastal adaption plans to mitigate the impacts of ongoing sea-level rise.

Atlantis 2.0: How Climate Change could make States Disappear – and What that Means for Global Security
Andrew Holland and Esther Babson
The Center for Climate Security, June 2017

For low-lying islands like Kiribati and the Marshall Islands in the Pacific and the Maldives in the Indian Ocean, sea level rise will present a series of tests about how to manage conflicts. In the near term, the fate of small islands will present a series of “mini crises” about how and where to relocate peoples and societies, and who retains control of the resources they once owned.

Amplification of Flood Frequencies with Local Sea Level Rise and Emerging Flood Regimes
Maya K Buchanan, Michael Oppenheimer, and Robert E Kopp
Environmental Research Letters, June 2017

The amplification of flood frequencies by sea level rise is expected to become one of the most economically damaging impacts of climate change for many coastal locations. The authors estimate a median 40-fold increase in the expected annual number of local 100-year floods for tide-gauge locations along the contiguous U.S. coastline by 2050.

Reaching Higher Ground: Avenues to Secure and Manage New Land for Communities Displaced by Climate Change
Maxine Burkett, Robert R.M. Verchick, and David Flores
Center for Progressive Reform, May 2017

This report reviews legal and policy tools to acquire, preserve, and govern land to relocate a community. The identified tools include litigation of unresolved land claims, legislation to secure land for relocation, use of federal assistance programs, and establishment of community-based not-for-profit organizations. This comprehensive look at the tools available to vulnerable communities can help them better understand their options.

National Flood Insurance Program Nationwide Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
April 2017

FEMA has prepared a draft nationwide programmatic environmental impact statement evaluating the environmental impacts of proposed modifications to the National Flood Insurance Program. This Draft NPEIS includes an evaluation of the potential impacts to the natural and human environment associated with the NFIP, as well as an evaluation of impacts of alternative proposals to modify the NFIP.

Migration Induced by Sea-Level Rise Could Reshape the US Population Landscape
Mathew E. Hauer
Nature Climate Change, March 2017

This paper combines projections of those at-risk for sea level rise (SLR) with migration systems simulations to project future destinations of SLR migrants in the U.S. The findings show that if not mitigated, SLR will reshape the country's population distribution, potentially adding pressure to inland areas unprepared to accommodate coastal migrants.

Managed Retreat as a Response to Natural Hazard Risk
Miyuki Hino, Christopher B. Field, and Katharine J. Mach
Nature Climate Change, March 2017

This study looks at 27 cases of managed retreat in 22 countries. The study evaluates the drivers, barriers, and outcomes of these cases that include the relocation of approximately 1.3 million people. The researchers developed a four quadrant model to organize cases based on who benefited from and who initiated retreat. The model can be used to understand contextual factors for specific cases, informing future applications of managed retreat.

Sea Level Rise Drives Increased Tidal Flooding Frequency at Tide Gauges Along the U.S. East and Gulf Coasts: Projections for 2030 and 2045
Kristina A. Dahl, Melanie F. Fitzpatrick, and Erika Spanger-Siegfried
PLOS ONE, February 2017

This report differs from other coastal flooding projection studies because of its focus on near-term time horizons: 2030 and 2045. The study finds that tidal flooding will increase in the 52 locations in the East and Gulf Coasts of the U.S. included in the study.

The Coastline at Risk: 2016 Update to the Estimated Insured Value of U.S. Coastal Properties
Air Worldwide, 2016

This report is an update to previous editions released by Air Worldwide. This edition charts the continuing growth in the insured value of exposed coastal properties from 2013 to 2015. Among other findings, the study identifies the total insured value of properties located within the 100-year storm surge footprint as over $1.1 trillion.

Climate Risk Assessment under Uncertainty: An Application to Main European Coastal Cities
Luis M. Abadie, Elisa Sainz de Murieta, and Ibon Galarraga
Frontiers, December 2016

Using the worst case emissions scenario from the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change and incorporating uncertainty in sea level rise, this study finds that economic losses may exceed 40 billion USD by 2100.

Navigating Complexity: Climate, Migration, and Conflict in a Changing World
Wilson Center and USAID, November 2016

This report focuses on the nexus between climate, migration, and conflict. It informs development and diplomacy professionals about how they might engage constructively with these issues. The report includes a literature review and case studies from Darfur and Syria.

Migration, Environment, and Climate Change: Working Paper Series
Francois Gemenne and Julia Blocher
International Organization for Migration, 2016

This working paper serves as a starting point for the research strategy of the Migration, Environmental, and Climate Change: Evidence for Policy project, funded by the European Union. The project was designed to address the current dearth of empirical knowledge about the migration-adaptation nexus. Through this project, researchers will look at mobility as an adaptation strategy, focusing on how migration, displacement, and planned relocation affect the adaptive capacity of migrants, the communities they originate from, and their new homes.

Climate Change and Adaptive Decision Making: Responses from North Carolina Coastal Officials
Brian R. Bulla, Elizabeth A. Craig, and Toddi A. Steelman
Ocean & Coastal Management, October 2016

The authors surveyed North Carolina coastal officials on their willingness to take adaptive action. Test variables included knowledge about climate change, perceived threat, and ideology. The researchers found no relationship between willingness to take action and knowledge about climate change but did find a significant relationship between a willingness to take action and perceived threat and ideology.

Buy-In for Buyouts: The Case for Managed Retreat from Flood Zones
Robert Freudenberg, Ellis Calvin, Laura Tolkoff, and Dare Brawley
Lincoln Institute for Land Policy, 2016

This report presents an in-depth study of buyouts in the New York metropolitan region following Hurricanes Irene and Sandy as a tool for adaptation against flooding. The report offers a set of policy recommendations to improve the effectiveness of and participation in buyout programs. (free PDF download)

Guidance on Protecting People From Disasters and Environmental Change Through Planned Relocation
The Brookings Institution, Georgetown University, Institute for the Study of International Migration, and Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, October 2015 

This report sets out general principles to guide those implementing planned relocation in regards to the creation of laws, policies, plans, and programs.

Climate-Induced Community Relocations: Creating an Adaptive Governance Framework Based in Human Rights Doctrine
Robin Bronen
Ecology & Society, 2015

This article describes the steps that federal, state, and tribal governments have taken to relocate Newtok, one of at least 12 indigenous communities in Alaska that needs to relocate due to climate change. It also proposes the creation of Guiding Principles of Climigration. This framework would help government agencies transition their humanitarian response from protection in place to community relocation.

Climate-Induced Sea Level Rise and Sustainable Coastal Management: The Influence of Existing Policy Frameworks on Risk Perception
Chad J. McGuire, JD
Sustainability: The Journal of Record, 2014

This article looks at the role of existing government policies on perceptions of risk and the impact they have on developing forward-looking sustainable policy instruments. The authors focus on coastal flood insurance policy in the United States to explore the relationship between policy instruments and risk perception.

Anatomy of a Buyout Program- New York Post-Superstorm Sandy
Annie Siders
16th Annual Conference on Litigating Takings Challenges to Land Use and Environmental Regulations, November 2013

This paper describes the acquisition and buyout programs undertaken by New York City and New York State after Superstorm Sandy. It describes federal funding sources and their constraints. Communities must decide between an acquisition program where property is purchased at post-disaster prices and redeveloped or a buyout program where property is purchased at pre-disaster prices and turned into open space.

Managed Coastal Retreat: A Legal Handbook on Shifting Development Away from Vulnerable Areas
Annie Siders
Columbia Center for Climate Change Law, Columbia Law School, October 2013

Numerous legal tools exist to assist federal, state, and local governments in conducting managed retreat away from the most vulnerable coasts. This Handbook collects examples, case studies, and lessons learned from some of these early innovators in the hope that their lessons can inform future efforts to limit the exposure of communities to coastal threats.

Adaptive Governance and Institutional Strategies for Climate-Induced Community Relocations in Alaska
Robin Bronen and F. Stuart Chapin III
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, March 2013

Through a comparative analysis of three Alaskan communities, this article examines the institutional constraints to relocation in the United States. It identifies policy changes and components of a toolkit that could facilitate community-based adaptation when environmental events threaten people’s lives, and protection in place is not possible.

Managed Retreat of Coastal Communities: Understanding Responses to Projected Sea Level Rise
Kim S. Alexander, Anthony Ryan, and Thomas G. Measham
Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization Ecosystem Sciences, January 2011

This paper explores a range of different decision-making criteria used to assess a managed retreat scheme. The framework proposes that people can act intuitively as scientists, economists, politicians, prosecutors, and theologians, when considering a complex topic such as managed retreat policy. The research found that the survey respondents are more likely to consider the topic of managed retreat from multiple perspectives than from a single perspective.

Community Response to Sea Level Rise Policy of Planned Retreat: Localised Debates in Community Newspapers
Anne M Leitch
Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization Sustainable Ecosystems and James Cook University, 2009

This research paper presents a quantitative content analysis of articles appearing in two local newspapers in Byron Shire, Australia during the four months following a May 2009 storm event. Because news media has a powerful influence on public opinion, this study offers interesting insights into the communities’ response to the storm and the Byron Shire Council’s planned retreat policy.