The data centers that provide the backbone for the online services the public relies on are at risk of overheating as heat waves become more common and extreme due to the effects of climate change.

Clifford Stein, Data Science Institute interim director and Wai T. Chang Professor of Industrial Engineering and Operations Research, joined CTV’s Your Morning to discuss the impact of extreme weather on data centers around the world.

“(Data centers) are responsible for running many of the services that you use. If you have Gmail, your Gmail is stored somewhere. If you have pictures on Instagram, your Instagram photos are stored in a data center,” said Clifford Stein, director of Columbia University’s Data Science Institute, in an interview with CTV’s Your Morning on Tuesday.

A data center can have thousands of computers in one room, generating a considerable amount of heat. These computers have to be cooled in order for them to avoid malfunctioning — a task that becomes far more challenging during extreme heat events, Stein says.

“As the climate heats up, it becomes harder and harder to keep data centers cool,” Stein said. “They’re constantly generating heat and they’re generating it everywhere.”

WATCH: Data centres at risk of overheating as heat waves becomes more intense