Keynote: LightsOut: Climate Change Risk to Internet Infrastructure
Paul Barford, University of Wisconsin
Climate change is perhaps the most significant problem facing humanity. The dramatic rise in greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere over the past 100 years is causing changes in weather patterns including increased likelihood of severe storms, forest fires and rapid rise in sea levels due to melting polar ice caps and thermal expansion of seawater. In this talk I will describe our recent study that considers the risks to Internet infrastructure in the US due to sea level rise. Our study is based on sea level incursion projections from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and Internet infrastructure deployment data from Internet Atlas. We assess risks in terms of the amount and type of infrastructure that will be under water in different time intervals over the next 100 years. We find that 4,067 miles of fiber conduit will be under water and 1,101 nodes (e.g., points of presence and colocation centers) will be surrounded by water in the next 15 years. We further quantify the risks of sea level rise by defining a metric that considers the combination of geographic scope and Internet infrastructure density. We use this metric to examine different metro regions and service provider infrastructures that are at highest risk. Our on-going work is focused on expanding our risk analysis beyond the US, considering additional threats, assessing potential impact and developing mitigation strategies.