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Climate Change Could Damage Internet Infrastructure

For very big environmental ills, mostly the climate change-related sea level rise is blamed whether it is severe coastal flooding to unusual destructive hurricanes. NBC reported that this doesn’t end here as rising seas comes with a new worry of flooding the underground cables that carry the internet probably creating outages.


More than 4,000 miles of internet cables are expected to be submerged in seawater in the U.S. It may also sink over thousands data centres that include routers, house servers, and other hardware. All this information was collected from a paper presented at an internet conference in Montreal on July 16 by the researchers of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of Oregon.

According to some researchers, Seattle, Miami, and New York as the metropolitan areas are recognized at the prominent risk for flooded internet infrastructures. Some of the carriers which were categorized as especially vulnerable- Chicago-based Inteliquent; CenturyLink of Monroe, Louisiana; and AT&T, which is based in Dallas.

In the paper’s conclusion, it was expected that all these results highlight a present and real threat to the operations and management of communications systems and ensured steps to be taken soon to implement plans to address this threat.

Within 15 years, the inundation is expected to come. Paul Barford, this study’s co-author and professor of computer sciences at the University of Wisconsin and commented that this is something unexpected. This is expected that it might be parcelled out for a larger time period, but that’s not the case.

Even, the scientist analysed the maps of internet infrastructure with the coastal areas in the U.S. which have a higher level of sea rise projections made by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Over the next 15 years, these projections show a worst-case scenario depicting a sea level rise of one foot.

In order to make the best protection of coastal communities from flooding which is connected with climate change, Green approaches work the best way.

This paper introduced a set of recommendations for moderating the threat in particular areas. It also includes the assessment of the result of the constructing seawalls, waterproofing the cables and related infrastructure and also rerouting internet traffic when threats are at its peak. According to this paper, internet cables are not like the submarine cables that carry data and voice under oceans, these internet cables are resistant to water but are not intended to withstand submersion.

It all depends on the municipalities and service providers to generate and implement various plans of mitigation, said Barford. The company has devised a “near-term weather and long-term environmental risks” plan, said the spokesperson for AT&T told MACH via an email. On the same hand, a spokesperson for CenturyLink told that it would take all possible risks including effects of climate change. There were no responses recorded from MACH in a request for comment.

Working with my collaborators, there is a proper plan developed to make the protection of other risks happening to internet infrastructure associating the climate change. This will help preserve our great internet communication capability.

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