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Dublin datacentre operators warned of climate change-related coastal flooding risks

A 3D data visualisation map from Cervest shows large swathes of Dublin could be affected by climate change-related coastal flooding in the years to come, which could have big implications for the region's datacentres

Dublin’s datacentre operators are being urged to pay close attention to climate change forecasts that suggest thousands of buildings – including power stations – in the Irish city could be at high risk of coastal flooding in the years to come.

That’s according to data shared by climate technology company Cervest, which used the Dublin Climate Summit this week to publish a 3D data visualisation of a “business as usual” climate scenario that suggests large swathes of the city could be at risk of up to 1.7 metres of flooding by the year 2100.

“Damaged areas will include businesses, private property and energy suppliers,” the company said, in a statement.

“It reinforces the importance of keeping global heating to a minimum and that the places we know and take for granted as ‘permanent fixtures’ are today part of a fragile and interconnected system that is being transformed by climate change.”

Its forecast shows that, without outside intervention, more than 8,500 buildings in Dublin’s central area could be blighted by coastal flooding, including power stations, which could lead to widespread, indirect disruption to datacentres located in the Greater Dublin area, as well as any located in the central area, cautioned Cervest CEO Iggy Bassi in a statement to Computer Weekly.

“Rising sea levels are poised to cause significant damage and disruption to datacentres in Dublin and elsewhere, creating outages, significant downtime and network-wide disruption,” he said.

“There are also the knock-on impacts that will be transmitted across the network, impacting business continuity of the critical telecommunications infrastructure that forms the backbone of our economy – the impacts of climate risks are felt across the entire network, not only at the site physically affected.”

Read more about climate change and datacentres

As previously documented by Computer Weekly, demand for datacentre capacity in and around Dublin has soared in recent years, fuelled predominantly by the growing demand for server capacity from the public cloud and internet giants. So much so, the market is now considered to be one of the largest in Europe.

“To be truly prepared, datacentre leaders must have a unified view of all climate risks,” said Bassi. “This includes flooding, but there are also other stresses, such as heatwaves, which must be factored in.”

On that point, the visualisation shared during the summit only shows the impact that climate change-related coastal flooding will have on Dublin, but its creators said other side effects of global warming – including extreme heat and wind stress – could also spell big trouble for the region and its businesses too.

“If mitigation policies, such as making good on national emissions reduction commitments, deforestation pledges and implementing mandatory legislation on reporting standards, are applied in the near future, this scenario might change,” the statement added.

“Even so, there is a lot of inertia already in place based on prior climate events and human actions and inactions, so damages are inevitable. Even if we reach net-zero tomorrow, physical risk is already locked into our system due to past actions.”

For this reason, Bassi said businesses and governments can no longer afford to ignore the risk that climate change will have on physical assets. “You don’t need to be a climate scientist to understand this powerful image,” he said. “It makes a global problem relatable on a local level.

“Cervest’s science-backed Climate Intelligence enables a view of connected assets across multiple scales. Using these insights, decisions can be made across multiple timeframes, climate hazards and emissions scenarios. Pinpointing where we are most vulnerable is the first step in reducing our exposure to climate risk.”

Read more on Datacentre energy efficiency and green IT

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