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US engineers have identified a problem nobody had ever expected to confront so soon: the approach of the flooded internet, caused by worldwide sea level rise. Within 15 years sea water could be lapping over buried fibre-optic cables in New York, Seattle, Miami and other US coastal cities, according to a new study.

The consequences for global communications are unknown. But, as the glaciers melt, and the water in the oceans continues to expand as temperatures rise, the chances of urban flooding will increase.

And that means water where nobody expected it – over buried cables, data centres, traffic exchanges, termination points and other nerve centres of the physical internet, according to a team from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of Oregon, US.

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