Why Rising Sea Levels Are a Problem for the Internet
If you get irrationally angry whenever your internet service provider allows a temporary drop in connectivity, you should probably develop some better coping skills. In the not-too-distant future, millions of users may be experiencing longer outages, thanks to rising sea levels.
In research prepared by the University of Wisconsin and recently presented at an academic conference in Montreal, scientists warned that climate change may soon have a radical impact on the way we’re able to obtain internet access, as Popular Science reports. Fiber-optic cables that allow for the transfer of data are buried underground and adjacent to coastlines—where sea levels are likely to rise in the coming years, saturating the cables and causing damage.
While some cables are run underwater and are housed in sheaths to prevent water from entering, cables buried underground were not intended to experience prolonged submersion. These affected cables—which measure more than 4000 miles in total length—will most likely become inoperable due to their exposure to damaging saltwater, corroding and losing the ability to transmit signals. The points where underwater cables connect to surface lines will also be vulnerable. Miami, New York, and Seattle are among the areas where connectivity could be most impacted.
Paul Barford, Ph.D., a computer scientist and the lead author on the paper, told Popular Science that this service interruption is likely to become a growing problem within the next 15 years. He cautioned that communications companies should begin implementing protective measures and solutions soon if they want to avoid major interruptions in the near future.
[h/t Popular Science]