Map shows why more people could move to Michigan, Great Lakes in future

Climate change is expected to worsen droughts and magnify wildfires in the west. It will create more extreme hurricanes in the southeast and threaten the coast with rising sea levels. Severe weather will happen more often while pests like mosquitoes will spread as well.

Could it be time to pack up and move to the Great Lakes?

That's the sentiment from a paper written by scientists from multiple research centers in the area who argue states like Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, and Pennsylvania will become more attractive places to live. 

The Great Lakes promise ample fresh water sources that the southwest can no longer guarantee. It also moderates some extreme weather that would otherwise tear through other parts of the country. The extreme heat that's expected to become deadlier elsewhere won't afflict the region as much here.

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"Compared with the dry Southwest, the storm-ridden Gulf region and the sea-level rise exposed East and West Coasts, the GLR may fare relatively favorably due to an abundance of natural resources and projected climate amenities," reads a paper authored by environment and sustainability professor Dr. Derek Van Berkel. 

The natural and social risks the Great Lakes region faces.

Because of those reasons, the Great Lakes states should expect rising interest from those attempting to escape the worsening weather patterns. They should also be more proactive in anticipating climate migration, the paper reads, writing "it is essential that GLR urban communities proactively prepare and plan for such a potential future."

That idea inspired the creation of a new map that visualizes the risks that severe weather pose to cities in the Great Lakes face. It also shows the social factors like poverty, vehicle access, and housing availability present in those cities.

MORE: What's causing Michigan's storms to get stronger?

Many cities in the Great Lakes, including much of Michigan face below average threats for flooding, heat, wind, and flooding compared to the rest of the country.

According to the map, some of the best spots to move to in the lower peninsula of Michigan include:

  • Washtenaw County
  • Livingston County
  • Oakland County
  • Ingham County
  • Allegan County
  • Ottawa County
  • Kent County

While some spots in Michigan aren't as vulnerable to climate change, they do face issues of poverty, transpiration access, and affordable housing. That's true in both Detroit and the upper peninsula. 

You can view the interactive map here.