Study: Over-pumping groundwater adds to sea level rise

By on March 25, 2015
Farming irrigation. (Credit: John Curley/CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Farming irrigation. (Credit: John Curley/CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Pumping too much groundwater has contributed to rising sea levels, according to a study published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters. The author, a retired hydrogeologist, says that enough water has been pumped out of groundwater aquifers since 1900 to fill Lake Tahoe 30 times, according to Grist.

“Long-term groundwater depletion represents a large transfer of water from the continents to the oceans,” wrote Leonard Konikow, who recently retired from the U.S. Geological Survey, in the study. “Thus, groundwater depletion represents a small but nontrivial contributor to SLR (sea-level rise).”

The biggest contributors to sea-level rise are related to climate change, like glacier melt or the expansion of ocean waters due to rising temperatures. But the groundwater pumping has added around an eighth of an inch to the rise seen from 1990 to 2008.

Top image: Farming irrigation. (Credit: John Curley/CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

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