Climate change could hit your Wifi, report warns

Posted by Emma Woollacott

Climate change doesn't just mean a threat to polar bears and penguins - it could damage your precious Wifi signal as well, a UK government report has warned.

"Our economy is built on effective transport and communications networks and reliable energy and water supplies," says environment secretary Caroline Spelman.

"But the economy cannot grow if there are repeated power failures, or goods cannot be transported because roads are flooded and railways have buckled, or if intense rainfall or high temperatures disrupt Wifi signals."

According to the report, higher temperatures could reduce the range of wireless communications, and more frequent and heavier rain would reduce the signal range. It's even suggested that a change in a country's vegetation could affect the propagation of radio waves.

Drier or wetter soil could also cause subsidence, damaging masts and underground cables. And an increase in the number of falling trees, caused by more extreme weather, could cause problems by bringing down overhead lines.

The report warns that infrastructure owners and providers should prepare for climate change by improving the strength and resilience of their systems.

"“Infrastructure assets often have lives of at least 50-100 years so they need to be designed to function long into the future when the climate is projected to be very different," says Spelman.

Also at risk, she says, are railways, roads and power networks. The report proposes that £200 billion be invested in ensuring that such services are able to stand up to climate change.