As climate-change related sea level rise is being blamed for coastal flooding and destructive hurricanes, researchers are now worrying that rising seas could flood the underground cables that carry the internet, potentially causing widespread outages, NBC News reported.
Seawater is likely to submerge more than 4,000 miles of internet cable in the U.S. and engulf more than a thousand data centers that house servers, routers and other hardware, researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of Oregon said in a paper presented July 16 at an internet conference in Montreal.
The researchers identified New York, Miami and Seattle as the metropolitan areas at greatest risk for flooded internet infrastructures. Three carriers were identified as especially vulnerable: CenturyLink of Monroe, Louisiana; Chicago-based Inteliquent; and AT&T, which is based in Dallas.
For their research, the scientists compared maps of internet infrastructure along coastal areas in the U.S. with sea level rise projections made by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The projections, which indicate a worst-case scenario, show a sea level rise of one foot over the next 15 years.