Flocking to fire: How climate and natural hazards shape human migration across the US

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Here, we examine recent (2010–2020) trends in human migration across the US in relation to features of the natural landscape and climate, as well as frequencies of various natural hazards. Controlling for socioeconomic and environmental factors, we found that people have moved away from areas most affected by heat waves and hurricanes, but toward areas most affected by wildfires. This relationship may suggest that, for many, the dangers of wildfires do not yet outweigh the perceived benefits of life in fire-prone areas. We also found that people have been moving toward metropolitan areas with relatively hot summers, a dangerous public health trend if mean and maximum temperatures continue to rise, as projected in most climate scenarios. These results have implications for policymakers and planners as they prepare strategies to mitigate climate change and natural hazards in areas attracting migrants.

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