In the world of water, all things are connected. That’s what a recent study seems to say about the effects of increasing groundwater consumption on the Earth’s sea levels.
Dr. Yoshihide Wada, a hydrologist at Utretcht University in the Netherlands, claims in the study that groundwater taken out of the earth will likely find its way back to the ocean, causing sea levels to rise further. His team of Dutch scientists modeled current groundwater extraction trends, economic growth, development projections, climate change, and aquifer recharge rates around the world to estimate the impact of harvested groundwater.
The findings of the study are intriguing; particularly when groundwater extraction issues have become so significant in the Texas Panhandle.
Wada and his colleagues have discovered that groundwater depletion is adding approximately 0.6 millimeters per year to the sea level. By 2050, the combined effects of population growth, economic development, and higher irrigation needs may increase this rate to 0.82 millimeters per year.
A report on the study in National Geographic says these trends might raise sea levels by 40 millimeters or 1.6 inches above 1990 levels. Overall, groundwater extraction is the largest contributor to sea-level rise other than the melting of Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets, adding about twenty-five percent to the projected rates of sea-level rise.