A recent study conducted by researchers from the University of Oregon and the University of Wisconsin says that most coastal internet cables will be underwater in 2030, and now it’s seems too late to stop it.
Co-author Dr. Carol Barford said that she and the other researchers had expected to see some overlap in infrastructure and shorelines, but the timing surprised them.
The results of the study when laying out the map from the previous study and comparing it to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predictions of the future shoreline shows that New York City, Miami and Seattle are at the highest risk.
Barford estimated that about 20 to 25% of the fibers that make up the internet in a city such as New York will be underwater on a normal day at high tide.”The movement of the signal is not as reliable when wet.”
The study lists CenturyLink, Intelliquent and AT&T as companies that are at the most risk, and it summarizes the key takeaway as “developing mitigation strategies should begin soon.”
While the fibers were designed to be water and weather resistant, they were not designed to be underwater, the study notes. Barford said that the water molecules can seep into any micro-cracks of the tubes and into the glass fibers, causing signals to slow down or be lost.
Water can also damage the lines and nodes when it freezes in the tubes, thaws out and then repeats the cycle. The result is cracked or broken pieces. Lastly, water sloshing around in the conduit can jostle or break fibers.
As far as things happening in the next 10 to 15 years, they’re pretty locked-in because there’s a lot of inertia in the climate system,” Barford said. “Even if we all stop driving cars and burning natural gas right now, it really wouldn’t make a difference 15 years from now.
The complications come in the time and money required to dig up those parts, most of which are along other types of infrastructure such as roads and railways. Another cost added to this option would be the waterproof cables, instead of water resistant cables.
Accu Weather.com / ABC Flash Point News 2018.