Rising Sea Levels Could Threaten Internet Access Within 15 Years
MADISON, WISCONSIN – July 18, 2018
Scientists warn that world wide web could end up underwater in less than15 years due to rising sea levels. Scientists from the University of Wisconsin have compared the schematics of the fiber optic cables laid on the ocean floor with data on rising levels seas, and the results of their work were quite distressing. Even in the most optimistic scenario, the Internet as we know it has about 15 more years.
If thousands of miles of cable are flooded because of rising sea levels, it could potentially impact Internet reliability for millions of Americans in major cities. In fact, higher temperatures and more powerful storms, both of which are more likely as the climate changes, have already affected Internet hardware. While the massive deep sea cables that carry data under the Atlantic and Pacific oceans are designed to be permanently underwater, other infrastructure such as copper wiring and power stations are not. They are water resistant but not waterproof
“So much of the infrastructure that's been deployed is right next to the coast, so it doesn't take much more than a few inches or a foot of sea level rise for it to be underwater,” explained study co-author Paul Barford, a computer scientist at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, in an interview with National Geographic.
“It was all deployed 20ish years ago, when no one was thinking about the fact that sea levels might come up," he added.
The analysis estimates that under the most severe modeling of a sea level rise, more than 4,000 miles of fiber optic cable along U.S. coastlines will be underwater by the early 2030s.
According to experts, Large, dense coastal cities such as New York, Miami and Seattle appear to have the highest risk of Internet disruption. Researchers said that they have only analyzed the situation in regards to the US, however, the problem will soon be a reality for many countries. Fiber optic cables were laid 20-25 years ago, without taking into consideration the global climatic change problem.
The ocean level rises due to melting ice from Greenland to Antarctica. As a result, the continents are changing coastlines. Researchers warn: the rising water will threaten cities from Shanghai to London, the lowlands in Florida and Bangladesh, and eventually the entire country.
Experts claim that this study aims to highlight how quickly we need to adapt to our rapidly changing environment.
Internet service providers say they are already thinking about the risks from flooding along the U.S. Coasts.