Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Flooding the System:  Climate Change Could Knock the Internet Offline

East Village residents charge their phones by generator after many New York City neighborhoods were left without power for days after Hurricane Sandy in October 2012. (Credit: Allison Joyce / Getty Images) Click to Enlarge.
The Internet depends on buildings, wires, servers and conduits.  And that physical infrastructure is just as vulnerable as any other.  That has government, industry and nonprofits all working to build sturdier infrastructure before the next catastrophic storm hits.

With temperatures rising and sea levels mounting, storms like Katrina will become both more common and more dangerous, according to the 2014 National Climate Assessment.  A stretch of the East Coast between North Carolina and Massachusetts will be especially vulnerable to storm surge — a wall of ocean water pushed onto shore — as it experiences considerably greater sea level rise than the worldwide average, according to a U.S. Geological Survey study.  Other parts of the country will continue to see increases in flooding, droughts and wildfires, detrimentally affecting critical infrastructure.

Those threats should drive how we design and plan Internet infrastructure, said Jon Koomey, a research fellow at Stanford University’s Steyer-Taylor Center for Energy Policy and Finance.

“Large storms can cause a huge amount of damage, and sea level rise will only make them more dangerous.  A rise of a few inches — as we’ve seen in recent decades — is very different than 4 or 5 feet, which is what the current best estimates are for sea level rise by 2100 if we don’t act on climate,” he said.

Read more at Flooding the System:  Climate Change Could Knock the Internet Offline

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