A study conducted by researchers at Seoul National University has found that the Earth’s rotational pole has shifted due to the extraction of groundwater.
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Earth is, in many ways, a water world. Around two-thirds of its surface is covered in water, and the oceans that provide that cover make up over 96% of all water on Earth, according to the US Geological Survey. Glaciers and ice caps make up another 1.74%, but groundwater is the third most plentiful source at 1.69% of all water available on Earth. That’s an astonishing 23.4 million cubic kilometers of the stuff, dwarfing the mere 176,000 cubic kilometers contained in all the lakes in the world. But that does not mean the total amount of groundwater is unlimited, and removing it can have a lasting impact on more than just the people who use it for bathing and drinking. A new study points to how humans pumping out groundwater impacts Earth’s rotation.
The study by researchers at Seoul National University found that the Earth is actually more tilted than it would have been if the groundwater remained where it was. Instead, humanity pumped the groundwater out of its resting place to use for their own devices, and then eventually, that groundwater ended up in the ocean.
Over the 17 years of the study, the authors use an estimate that people have pumped out around 2,150 gigatons of water from the ground. That is about a 6.24mm increase in the overall sea level throughout the planet. That may not sound like much, but even that tiny amount can have a gigantic impact over time.
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