Model estimates of sea-level change due to anthropogenic impacts on terrestrial water storage

Edited: 2012-05-20
TitleModel estimates of sea-level change due to anthropogenic impacts on terrestrial water storage
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2012
AuthorsPokhrel, Y., N. Hanasaki, Pat. Yeh, T. Yamada, S. Kanae, and T. Oki
JournalNature Geoscience
Date Published05/2012
ISSN1752-0908
Keywordssea_level, terrestrial_water
AbstractGlobal sea level has been rising over the past half century, according to tide-gauge data1, 2. Thermal expansion of oceans, melting of glaciers and loss of the ice masses in Greenland and Antarctica are commonly considered as the largest contributors, but these contributions do not entirely explain the observed sea-level rise1. Changes in terrestrial water storage are also likely to affect sea level3, 4, 5, 6, but comprehensive and reliable estimates of this contribution, particularly through human water use, are scarce1. Here, we estimate sea-level change in response to human impacts on terrestrial water storage by using an integrated model that simulates global terrestrial water stocks and flows (exclusive to Greenland and Antarctica) and especially accounts for human activities such as reservoir operation and irrigation. We find that, together, unsustainable groundwater use, artificial reservoir water impoundment, climate-driven changes in terrestrial water storage and the loss of water from closed basins have contributed a sea-level rise of about 0.77 mm yr−1 between 1961 and 2003, about 42% of the observed sea-level rise. We note that, of these components, the unsustainable use of groundwater represents the largest contribution.
DOI10.1038/ngeo1476
Short TitleNature Geosci