The Great Lakes and Climate-Induced Human Migration
Climate - News

Sea Grant Factsheet Suggests Actions to Help Communities


Katherine Bunting-Howarth, Associate Director, New York Sea Grant, E:, P: (607) 255-2832

Kara Lynn Dunn, NYSG's Great Lakes Freelance Publicist, E:, P: 315-465-7578 

Ithaca, NY, September 27, 2022 - New York Sea Grant and its multi-state People on the Move in a Changing Climate (PEMOCC) network partners have announced publication of “The Great Lakes and Climate-Induced Human Migration” factsheet (pdf), which is made possible with National Science Foundation funding. The eight-page document prompts consideration of how such factors as rising temperatures and precipitation, extreme weather events, sea level rise, and flooding that influence human migration, displacement, and planned relocation may impact the Great Lakes region of the U.S. Suggested action areas for attention by local, state, federal, community-based, and educational entities are included.

Scholars and news articles have speculated that communities, including Buffalo, Cincinnati, and Duluth, in Great Lakes’ states have the potential to frame themselves as destinations for people motivated to move due to climate-related concerns. 

“There are many uncertainties regarding who will move where and why. Populations may move to Great Lakes’ region communities attracted by amenities such as water. Others will move here because they are displaced from their existing homes due to climate-exacerbated extreme weather and sea level rise. This factsheet is a step toward mobilizing the resources that can be applied to better understand climate change impacts on people and how communities can plan and prepare for increased populations in an environmentally, economically, and socially adaptable manner,” said New York Sea Grant Institute Associate Director and Cornell University Cooperative Extension Assistant Director Katherine Bunting-Howarth, Ph.D., J.D.

New York Sea Grant worked with University at Buffalo Master of Urban Planning candidate, and Binghamton, New York, native, Andrea Harder to develop the factsheet to inform a Great Lakes regional workshop of 50 participants, including climatologists, climate adaptation professionals, sociologists, demographers, resiliency specialists, community action planners, ecologists, economists, and urban technology experts from New York and other Great Lakes states. 

At the regional workshop, hosted by New York, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin Sea Grants in Buffalo in June 2022, the group considered case studies of migration in the Great Lakes region and information on how climate risk can disproportionately impact communities of color and low-income and Indigenous communities. 

New York-based presenters at the workshop included Jerel M. Ezell, Ph.D., a social epidemiologist, Assistant Professor in Africana Studies, Fulbright Scholar focused on health disparities and social inequality in post-industrial communities, and director of the Center for Cultural Humility at Cornell University; and Susan Clark, Ph.D., a faculty expert on the societal impacts of climate change, sustainable infrastructure and community resilience; Assistant Professor in the Department of Environment and Sustainability; and director of the College of Arts and Sciences Leadership Master’s Program at the University at Buffalo.

The Great Lakes’ PEMOCC team includes representatives of New York, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin Sea Grant programs. 

More Info: New York Sea Grant

New York Sea Grant (NYSG), a cooperative program of Cornell University and the State University of New York (SUNY), is one of 34 university-based programs under the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Sea Grant College Program.

Since 1971, NYSG has represented a statewide network of integrated research, education and extension services promoting coastal community economic vitality, environmental sustainability and citizen awareness and understanding about the State’s marine and Great Lakes resources.

Through NYSG’s efforts, the combined talents of university scientists and extension specialists help develop and transfer science-based information to many coastal user groups—businesses and industries, federal, state and local government decision-makers and agency managers, educators, the media and the interested public.

The program maintains Great Lakes offices at Cornell University, SUNY Buffalo, SUNY Oswego and the Wayne County Cooperative Extension office in Newark. In the State's marine waters, NYSG has offices at Stony Brook University in Long Island, Brooklyn College and Cornell Cooperative Extension in NYC and Kingston in the Hudson Valley.

For updates on Sea Grant activities: has RSS, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube links. NYSG offers a free e-list sign up via for its flagship publication, NY Coastlines/Currents, which is published quarterly.

Home *  What is NYSG? *  Research *  Extension *  Education *  News & Events *  Publications
  Grants & Policies * Staff * NYSG Sites *  Related Sites * (631) 632-6905

Problems viewing our Site? Questions About our Site's Social Media / Other Features? - See Our Web Guidelines

For NYSG Staff ... Site Administration