Fiber: temperature affects latency

The temperature of the soil influences fiber optic cables and therefore the latency of the signal that travels through. This effect is found through research by the universities of Amsterdam and Groningen into the accuracy of new virtual atomic clock connections.

Working with the Dutch meteorological service KNMI they developed a mathematical model that describes the effect. The researchers published their results in the scientific journal Applied Optics.

In the study, the fiber network of the academic high-performance network SURFnet is used to transmit the signals of extremely stable atomic clocks in Amsterdam to Groningen for basic scientific research. The study also looked at the effect of variations in soil temperature on the behavior of the virtual atomic clock. The researchers found that increasing soil temperature slows down the signal. The thermal energy has caused the fiber cables to expand, which in turn had increased the data’s travel distance, albeit minutely, thus increasing the time it took for the data to reach its destination.

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