Date of Graduation

12-2014

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Environmental Dynamics (PhD)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

Graduate School

Advisor

Frank Farmer

Committee Member

Stephen Boss

Second Committee Member

Willam Schwab

Keywords

Human Migration, Marshall Islands, Sea-level Rise

Abstract

This study explores the relationship between sea-level rise and human migration from Rita Village in the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI). As one of only four low-lying atoll countries at the forefront of risks associated with climate change, examining the extent to which sea level will rise and displace residents in the Marshall Islands is of timely importance. The approach to this research is a scenario-based, case study and it examines loss of home, human displacement and subsequent migration in Rita Village as a result of varying levels of sea level rise. The scenario-based approach is based on the four Representative Concentration Pathways as defined by the International Panel on Climate Change, which range from a best case scenario to a worst case scenario of sea level rise. This research also examines distribution of the migration stream resultant from displacement by sea level rise to key destinations in the United States, including Hawaii, Arkansas and Washington State. The major findings suggest that sea level rise will be a key factor in migration from Rita Village to the year 2100. The best case scenario suggests that at least half of the population will be displaced by sea level rise by the year 2100, while the worst case scenario suggests complete inundation and total displacement of the population of Rita Village by 2100. The findings also suggest Hawaii, followed by Arkansas and then Washington State will experience the highest rates in migration of those displaced by sea level in the Marshall Islands.  

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