Recently, the Uptime Institute released a paper, titles Climate Change and the Risk to Data Centers. Extreme weather will become more and more the norm, as opposed to exception. Data centers worldwide should be very aware of the risks this change means for their operation. Storms and flooding, or droughts. Lightning and wildfire: the chance of any of these happening is getting bigger and bigger.
So, what are the risks exactly?
Storms and flooding
The Center for Climate and Energy Solutions predict a 45-87% increase in category 4 and 5 hurricanes, while average wind speed will increase by 2-11%. Rainfall: up 20%. Alarming numbers and data centers in flood or hurricane sensitive areas shouldn’t wait to take measurements. During a storm or flood, emergency systems might fail, staff might not be able to get to the data center, if they can even enter the premises.
Droughts and wildfires
The opposite of flooding, but still extreme weather: droughts are a great risk for data centers. Lack of cooling water, increased demands for cooling systems, but also power stations use water. A result of a drought could be a wildfire. Even though the number of wildfires has been slowly decreasing, the space burned by the fires per year is growing fast. If your data center is in a wildfire prone area, asserting the risks is inevitable.
For every degree in Celsius rise in global average air temperature, lightning strikes will increase by about 12%. Even if the Paris agreement is fulfilled completely, the temperature is expected to rise by 3 degrees, meaning a 40% increase in lightning strikes. In 2014 lightning struck the Singapore Stock Exchange (SGX). It lasted for 0.1 seconds and even though the Exchange had four layers of redundancy, the whole system went down for three hours, costing millions of Dollars.
Key findings from Uptime Institute Research
This year the Uptime Institute did a research under data centers. 80% of respondents say that their most recent service outage could have been prevented, and 36% of the biggest, global public service outages were due to power failures. About half of the organizations are ignoring the risk of climate change disruptions to their data centers, and a staggering 71% of data centers are not even preparing for severe weather events. Only a third are re-evaluating current technologies to adapt to more reliable power and energy configurations.
Climate change should be taking into account when renovating or building a data center. Depending on the area the center is based in, the specific measurements could vary. Some areas are more prone to lightning strikes, while others should worry about floods. When selecting a data center, ask them how prepared they are.