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Climate Analysis Report Methodology

This paper was produced by Invest Appalachia. The lead author is Nicholas Shanahan. The secondary author is Baylen Campbell. Andrew Crosson is a contributing writer and editor.

This paper was produced by Invest Appalachia. The lead author is Nicholas Shanahan. The secondary author is Baylen Campbell. Andrew Crosson is a contributing writer and editor.

Background and Purpose

This work began as a series of discussions between Master’s of Climate Change & Society (North Carolina State University) graduate Nicholas Shanahan, and Invest Appalachia’s Director of Community Impact Baylen Campbell and CEO Andrew Crosson. These discussions centered around the idea that Central Appalachian communities will likely be impacted by in-migration due to the climate crisis. We asked ourselves what challenges and opportunities such a scenario is likely to present to states and communities in the region, and how to best align Invest Appalachia’s strategic vision for community development and social investment accordingly. We found that there was not an established analysis of climate changes’ impacts on the greater Central Appalachian region, though many local jurisdictions or community organizations had some level of data or analysis about climate change’s impacts on a particular industry or locality.

This recognition led us to pursue what we originally conceived as a simple internal “baseline” assessment of existing literature on climate impacts and migration related to Appalachia. However, the lack of existing summary analysis on the topic led us to conduct a broadscope review of available literature from scientific and academic institutions, as well as an examination of the discourse from major popular media outlets, in an effort to empirically establish if and to what extent climate change concerns are affecting where Americans choose to live, as well as what regions may be best suited for climate related in-migration with a focus on the Central Appalachia region. The available data does suggest that Central and Northern Appalachia are relatively well positioned to act as sites of climate change adaptation at the national scale and therefore may expect to gain population and relatedly could experience economic expansion as a result of climate change. However, rigorous research into the subject of internal, voluntary climate change related migration in the United States has proven to be sparse, and is particularly lacking with regards to Appalachia. We strongly advocate for more publicly available research on the subject. Nevertheless, the authors and reviewers made their best effort to ground this paper’s arguments and findings in the most relevant available evidence. Where it was necessary to extrapolate or hypothesize, we relied on expert reviewers to vet any assumptions or projections.

Peer Reviewers

This document was submitted for two rounds of peer-review by a broad set of strategic stakeholders and subject matter experts. We are grateful to the following individuals and organizations for their review and feedback at various stages of this report development:

  • Heidi Arnold – Federal Disaster Recovery Officer, FEMA
  • Matthew Day – Tufts University Doctoral Candidate
  • Eric Dixon – Senior Researcher, Ohio River Valley Institute
  • Edward Ellis Jr. – FEMA, Emergency Management Specialist: Community Assistance Division (Local Government Administration Expert Specialist)
  • Chris Estes – Co-Director, Aspen Institute Community Strategies Group
  • Jim Fox – Senior Resilience Associate, Fernleaf+NEMAC
  • Jeff Fugate – Associate Professor of Extension and Program Director of the Urban & Environmental Design Program, University of Kentucky School of Architecture
  • Ann E. Kingsolver – Professor of Anthropology and Director of the Appalachian Studies Program, University of Kentucky
  • Autumn Long – Director of Appalachian Solar Finance Fund, Appalachian Voices
  • Paul Patton – Chief Innovation Officer, Rural Action
  • Debbie Phillips – Chief Executive Officer, Rural Action
  • Stephanie Randolph – Deputy Director, Cassiopeia Foundation
  • Adam Stein – Senior Policy Advisor of Climate and Resilience, NOAA
  • Hannah Vargason – Finance Research Fellow, Carsey School Center for Impact Finance, UNH
  • Rachael Young – Director of Grantmaking, Just Transition Fund


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