Simulating Global Population Development and Climate Change

Session

Demografi

Resume

The UN projects the global population to reach 9 billion by 2050, and 11 billion by 2100. The size of the future population of Denmark will depend on many different factors, including the socio-economic development in Europe, Asia, and Africa, and the effects of climate change in those areas.

Immigration to Europe and Denmark can be expected to increase due to the effects of climate change, especially since the most affected areas are also those which are expected to be seeing the largest population increases.

This presentation will cover the results of simulations of the global spatial distribution of urban and rural populations, the number of people affected by climate change, and potential implications for Europe. It will also cover technical challenges of such simulations, such as processing global remote sensing data and parallel computing of large geospatial datasets.

Målgruppe

Demographics researchers and GIS developers interested in using Open Source software for processing large geospatial datasets.

Abstract

The United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA) projects the global population to reach 9 billion by 2050, and 11 billion by the end of the century. According to the UN DESA median scenario, the population in Denmark is also expected to increase up to 6.7 million by 2100.

The actual number of future inhabitants in Denmark will depend on many different factors, including (among others) the socio-economic development in Denmark, the rest of Europe, Asia, and Africa, as well as the effects of climate change in those areas. Depending on the climate scenario, up to several hundred million people will be affected globally by prolonged extreme heat in the second half of the century, with yet unknown effects on the population's health, food production, and energy consumption for air conditioning.

Immigration to Europe and Denmark can be expected to increase in the face of these changes, especially since the most affected areas are also among those which are expected to be seeing the largest increases in population. Moreover, the urban heat island effect will make the situation even worse in urban areas, which are projected to host an increasing share of the global population.

The purpose of the research presented here is therefore to get a better understanding of the future spatial distribution of the global population in order to be able to make more realistic assessments of the number of people affected by these issues. To address this, a series of simulations has been conducted to simulate the global spatial distribution of urban and rural populations. Different versions of the simulations have been implemented based on different shared socio-economic pathways  and scenarios for climate change on a 1x1km raster.

This presentation will discuss the results of these simulations and potential implications for Denmark and the rest of Europe. Moreover, it will discuss the technical challenges of implementing such simulations, where each raster layer consists of more than 730 million cells, each of which need to be evaluated, individually. The presentation will therefore also touch upon topics such as processing of global remote sensing data, development of a consistent database to work on, and parallel computing of large geospatial datasets.

Simulating Global Population Development and Climate Change
Aalborg University Copenhagen