Accounting for internal migration in spatial population projections—a gravity-based modeling approach using the Shared Socioeconomic Pathways

Gridded population projections constitute an essential input for climate change impacts, adaptation, and vulnerability (IAV) assessments as they allow for exploring how future changes in the spatial distribution of population drive climate change impacts. We develop such spatial population projections, using a gravity-based modeling approach that accounts for rural-urban and inland-coastal migration as well as for spatial development patterns (i.e. urban sprawl). We calibrate the model (called CONCLUDE) to the socioeconomically diverse Mediterranean region, additionally considering differences in socioeconomic development in two geographical regions: the northern Mediterranean and the southern and eastern Mediterranean. We produce high-resolution population projections (approximately 1 km) for 2020–2100 that are consistent with the Shared Socioeconomic Pathways (SSPs), both in terms of qualitative narrative assumptions as well as national-level projections. We find that future spatial population patterns differ considerably under all SSPs, with four to eight times higher urban population densities and three to 16 times higher coastal populations in southern and eastern Mediterranean countries compared to northern Mediterranean countries in 2100. In the South and East, the highest urban density (8000 people km−2) and coastal population (107 million) are projected under SSP3, while in the North, the highest urban density (1500 people km−2) is projected under SSP1 and the highest coastal population (15.2 million) under SSP5. As these projections account for internal migration processes and spatial development patterns, they can provide new insights in a wide range of IAV assessments. Furthermore, CONCLUDE can be extended to other continental or global scales due to its modest data requirements based on freely available global datasets.


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