Flood-induced population displacements in the world

Kaoru Kakinuma, Michael J. Puma, Yukiko Hirabayashi, Masahiro Tanoue, Emerson A. Baptista, Shinjiro Kanae

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Strengthening the resilience of societies to extreme weather events is an urgent and critical priority around the world. Extreme weather often causes population displacement that compromises human security. Environment-induced displacement is multifaceted because climate extremes, population, and socio-economic conditions, among other factors, converge to influence individuals' decisions to move. When large-scale, catastrophic floods occur, people tend to move both suddenly and rapidly for survival. Quantifying the patterns and mechanisms of such displacement at global scale is essential to support areas at high risk for climate-induced displacement. Here we present the global distribution of vulnerability to floods by mapping potential flood exposure and observed flood-induced displacement. We found that countries in Africa might be highly vulnerable to floods because they have high flood-induced displacement even at low- to mid-level flood exposure. Our results show that income levels (Gross National Income) substantial impact flood-induced displacement. Moreover, the relationship between income levels and displacement is nonlinear, and this nonlinearity indicates large gaps in flood-induced displacement between high- and low-income countries. We suggest that low-income countries, particularly in Africa, face a high likelihood of flood-induced displacement and need to develop adaptation measures to mitigate the potential for displacement and the associated risks.

Original languageEnglish
Article number124029
JournalEnvironmental Research Letters
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Dec


  • Climate change
  • climate-induced migration
  • exposure
  • extreme weather events
  • migration
  • vulnerability Supplementary material for this article is available

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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