Engineering Matters Podcast
The cables that bind our world together
29 Jan 2024
The modern world is bound together with cables. As our economy moves to the cloud, the vast majority of data traffic passes through subsea cables. As we transition to renewable energy, hundreds of kilometres of cabling are needed within each wind farm, and to connect wind farms to the shore.
When the first cables were laid, in the 19th century, we learned that the seabed was not geologically and biologically featureless, but complex, dynamic, and full of life. Today, scientists are using cable-based sensing to track climate change in granular detail, and to listen to the calls of individual whales.
But the complexity of the seabed threatens these networks. Sand and silt are as mobile under the sea, as they are in the dunes of the desert. Human actions, from dropped anchors and scallop dredging, through to deep sea mining and pipe laying, pose their own challenges. And the awesome power of nature, of vast subsea landslides, earthquakes, and volcanoes, can sever these links in an instant. That’s where Fugro comes into play, undertaking marine surveys to help map the seabed and monitor the condition of existing cables.
Dr Michael Clare, Principal Researcher, Ocean BioGeoscience, National Oceanography Centre; Marine Environmental Advisor to the International Cable Protection Committee
Matthew Henderson, Technical Asset Manager, Substructure and Asset Lifecycle, SSE Renewables
Brian Bell, Global Director, Offshore Wind, Fugro
Bastian Wichand, Permitting Manager, Fugro
This episode was produced in partnership with Engineering Matters.