Groundwater depletion's contribution to sea level rise increasing



Since the turn of the twentieth century, industrial-scale redistribution of water from landlocked aquifers to the ocean has driven up the global average sea level by more than 12 centimeters. Between 1900 and 2008, roughly 4500 cubic kilometers of water was drawn from the ground, largely to feed an agricultural system increasingly reliant on irrigation. Of that 4500-cubic-kilometer total (nearly the volume of Lake Michigan), 1100 cubic kilometers were pumped out between 2000 and 2008 alone. This early-21st-century groundwater depletion was responsible for raising global sea level at a rate of 0.4 millimeter per year, an eighth of the observed total. These updated values, falling near the middle of the range of previous estimates, are the product of an investigation by Konikow that drew together a variety of volumetric measurements of groundwater storage.