‘This is a Very Big Problem’: Rising Sea Levels Will Lead to Significant Displacement in Coming Decades


The Maldives, a small country in the Arabian Sea, is at high risk of being made uninhabitable by rising sea levels.

Because of climate change, rising sea levels could affect hundreds of millions more people in the coming decades than previously understood, with an estimated 150 million people currently living on land that will be below high tide by 2050, according to new research published in the journal Nature Communications.

Andrea Simonelli, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the Department of Political Science in the College of Humanities and Sciences, studies governance responses to human migration, specifically legal and institutional frameworks to address internal and cross-border displacement due to climate processes.

The author of “Governing Climate Induced Migration and Displacement: IGO Expansion and Global Governance” (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015), Simonelli has conducted research in Maldives and Tuvalu, which are among the world's most vulnerable islands to sea level rise. The estimates, she said, underscore just how big of a problem the world is facing.

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