Urbanization trajectories and population exposure to sea elevation climate risk in Mexico

Héctor Leon Rojas, El Colegio de Mexico
Landy Sanchez, El Colegio de México

Sea elevation is a well-known climate change risk. As global warming progress, sea level is increasing more rapidly in recent years than in the past, posing greater treats for population living in coastal areas, where flooding, shoreline erosion and surge storms are becoming more frequent. While multiple studies analyze population exposure to sea level rise (Hauer et al., 2016; Balk et al., 2009), there is still a need to understand how population dynamics plays a role in constructing environmental risk. Contrary to a global trend, Mexico did not used to have its population located by the sea, but coastal population is expanding rapidly as a result of internal migration pushed by economic dynamism. This paper analyzes how urbanization trajectories shape exposure to sea elevation climate hazard in low-elevation coastal areas in Mexico. Using remote sensors data (1990-2014), It estimates the rate of expansion and form of urban areas, and those results are then used to predict population exposure in 2020. Preliminary results show the rapid urbanization of low-elevation zones, right in the seashore line; with the largest proportion of urbanization taking place in low-elevation zone. That process also implied an increment in intensity of built-up and population in the coast.

Keywords: Urbanization and urban populations, Remote sensing, Population size and growth/decline

See extended abstract.

  Presented in Session 173. Population Shifts and Environmental Change: Past Trends, Current Conditions and Future Scenarios