How Climate Change Is Affecting Data CentersApril 21, 2021
As technology continues to advance, businesses and consumers worldwide now require unprecedented amounts of data storage, connectivity, and processing power. With the increasing importance of these commodities to the world’s infrastructure comes an increased risk of damage from expected climate change in the years to come. Scientists project that worldwide temperatures will increase between 2 and 10 degrees Fahrenheit over the next century. Many expect this to lead to more intense natural disasters, more droughts and heatwaves, rising sea levels, changes in rain patterns, and other regional effects, such as increased wildfires and erosion.
Why the Need for Preparation?
Data centers are a contributor to harmful greenhouse gases. They use up to 2 percent of all US electricity. The carbon footprint of the world’s data center surpasses that of the airline industry. With that in mind, how climate change is affecting data centersis a response to its own carbon emission issues and climate change itself.
Some larger data centers use more power than a sizeable city. More and more organizations are making sustainable practices a priority. Green data center practices include reducing waste, reusing waste heat in nearby communities, utilizing modular technologies in design and construction, and deploying low-power servers. With this consumer and industrial trend, few organizations can afford not to implement some changes.
New Cooling Needs
Improving energy efficiency through enhanced cooling systems allows a data center to utilize less power and drive costs down. Data centers have experimented with using cold seawater cooling and groundwater cooling, among other cooling technologies. As global temperatures rise, more organizations will need to implement more efficient cooling technologies and reconsider their data centers’ geographic locations.
Disaster Recovery Plans
Higher temperatures are prone to producing more severe weather events, leading to power outages, data loss, and physical damage. Organizations need to develop their own disaster recovery plans, power redundancies, and regular maintenance and training schedules to maintain uptime.
New Geographic Locations
As temperatures, weather patterns, and sea levels change, organizations will need to rethink the geographic locations of their data centers. Data centers near vulnerable coasts could end up underwater. They will need to consider bolstering their physical infrastructures and moving existing critical infrastructure inland. Organizations will also need to consider their locations’ risk of reduced water supplies, erosion, wildfires, extreme heat, heavy downpours, and poor air quality.
The growth of data center infrastructure is a significant opportunity for the industry to reflect on its current practices and plan for the future. Data centers must reduce their carbon footprint and pivot toward green efficiency to keep up with environmental and consumer demands. The discussion of how climate change is affecting data centers is complex. It’s best to evaluate these factors on your own current or future data centers before forging ahead with future plans.