Sea-level rise due to climate change is becoming an increasing concern for island nations and low-lying areas, such as Miami-Dade County, Florida.

The primary focus of research on sea-level rise has been the direct effects of flooding, but a new study also considers socioeconomic vulnerabilities.

The study found that, in the coming decades, four out of five Miami-Dade County residents could face displacement or disruption due to sea-level rise, whether or not they live in a flood zone, a press release from the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia Climate School said.

The researchers concluded that, as inundation increases, lower-income residents will bear the brunt of a lack of habitable areas and skyrocketing housing prices. A small percentage of affluent residents will have the means to move from waterfront or low-lying properties, but others may have no choice but to stay, according to the study.

“Most studies focus on the direct effects of inundation,” said Nadia Seeteram, lead author of the study and a postdoctoral researcher at Columbia’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, in the press release. “Here, we were able to look at flooding on a very granular level, and add in other vulnerabilities.”

The study, “Modes of climate mobility under sea-level rise,” was published in the journal Environmental Research Letters.

The researchers looked at a combination of rainfall, storm surge and projections of flooding caused directly by sea-level rise that went from building to building, as well as demographic data, in determining the effects on residents, the press release said.

The team used data from the U.S. Census Bureau along with flood maps to chart the social and economic factors that would lead to residents being more or less vulnerable. These included age, income, employment status, race, education level, whether they were homeowners or renters and other factors.

The population was then divided into four categories. The first and most common were those residents facing sea-level rise of one meter, considered a “middle-of-the-road” possibility by the year 2100. This scenario would affect 56 percent of residents who live mostly on higher ground. The researchers called this portion of the population “displaced,” saying they could be faced with pressure to relocate.

Read the full article about impacts for sea level rise for residents in Miami by Cristen Hemingway Jaynes at EcoWatch.