Surging Seas Sea level rise analysis by Climate Central

Future Flood Risk: Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway

Description: An assessment of the sea level rise and coastal flood risk to the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway, a series of historic sites stretching from Maryland’s Eastern shore to Philadelphia.
Date: April 2021

Climate Central used its public and proprietary tools to assess the current and future coastal flood risk to the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway. The Byway is a 125-mile, self-guided, scenic tour, originating along Maryland’s Eastern Shore and ending in Philadelphia. The 45 sites along the Byway include the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitor Center, historic sites connected to the underground trail along which Tubman guided nearly 70 enslaved people to freedom, as well as wildlife refuges and other cultural or environmental places of interest.

Since much of the Byway is situated only a few feet above sea level, coastal flooding already poses a significant risk to many of these sites. As the climate continues to warm and sea levels rise, the risk of flooding to these historic sites will increase dramatically.

Using coordinates from the Byway map and our proprietary Portfolio Analysis Tool, Climate Central screened sites along the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway for coastal flood risk. The screen found that 16 of the Byway locations are exposed to at least occasional flood risk by 2050, and 25 are exposed by the end of the century. Ten of the locations show chronic flood risk currently, meaning that these sites are expected to experience a flood risk event at least annually. A flood risk event occurs when nearby coastal water levels exceed the elevation of a location and there is an unobstructed pathway for the water to reach that site.

To read the complete report, including flood risk analyses for all identified sites, please click here for a downloadable PDF.