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AT&T Releases Projections on Climate-Fueled Natural Disasters to Help US Build Resilience

The telecommunications giant hopes the publicly available data can help guide the climate-adaptation efforts of the people and communities it serves.

Last week — as AT&T deployed communication resources to support first responders battling wildfires in New Mexico and Arizona — the company released projections of how climate change will drive future wildfires, droughts, floods and other natural disasters across the contiguous 48 states at the Aspen Ideas: Climate conference.

One in three US adults say they’ve been personally affected by an extreme weather event in the past two years. In 2021 alone, the US experienced more than 60 extreme weather and climate events.

That’s why AT&T has partnered with the US Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory for several years to develop projections of how climate change will drive increased natural disasters over the next 30 years.

As Shannon Thomas Carroll — AVP of Global Environmental Sustainability at AT&T — explained in a recent blog post, the telecoms giant started this project to help inform efforts to create a more resilient network, which is critical for the millions of people who rely on phone and internet connectivity. AT&T has made significant investments to increase network resilience; but the unprecedented climate impacts of the last few years (and, in theory, lessons learned from PG&E) have reinforced the need for further action to prepare for the ever climate-changing environment.

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Thomas explained that AT&T began by modeling inland flooding caused by rainfall, coastal flooding from hurricanes, and wind events across four southeastern states. However — since flooding and winds are not the only weather events that have become more frequent and severe due to climate change; and climate change is not limited to specific communities, states or regions — the company expanded its projections to include insights around future wildfires and droughts across the contiguous 48 states.

In the same way that Redfin’s climate-risk data can provide valuable caveats for prospective home buyers, the publicly available AT&T-Argonne data can also help guide the climate-adaptation efforts of the people and the communities that AT&T serves. The new datasets are available for download here. AT&T says it will release additional data on coastal and inland flooding and high-intensity winds for the lower 48 states later this year.

In the meantime, AT&T says its network teams are using information generated from its Climate Change Analysis Tool (CCAT) to further improve resilience and better serve its customers. And the company is also working with external organizations — including Argonne, The National Fish & Wildlife Foundation, EcoRise, the New York Power Authority and five universities in the Southeast — on resilience projects and further increasing awareness and use of the climate data.