The output of the ORCHIDEE Land Surface Model, driven by a 53-yr (1948–2000) atmospheric forcing data set, was used to estimate the effects of land water storage on global mean sea level. Over the past half century, no significant trend was detected but there is a strong decadal variability in the land water storage, driven by precipitation and originating principally in the tropics. The land water contribution to sea level change over the past 50 yr appears highly anti-correlated with thermal expansion of the oceans. This result suggests that change in ocean heat content influences the global water cycle. It also shows that, at decadal time scale, there is partial compensation in sea level changes between thermal expansion and ocean water mass change due to changes in land water storage.