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Latest Momentous Discovery – The “Parched” Earth Is Getting Wetter!

September 30, 2016

By Paul Homewood 


h/t James Grant Makin




Back in February, this paper appeared:


As glaciers melt due to climate change, the increasingly hot and parched Earth is absorbing some of that water inland, slowing sea level rise, NASA experts said Thursday.

Satellite measurements over the past decade show for the first time that the Earth’s continents have soaked up and stored an extra 3.2 trillion tons of water in soils, lakes and underground aquifers, the experts said in a study in the journal Science.

This has temporarily slowed the rate of sea level rise by about 20 percent, it said.

"We always assumed that people’s increased reliance on groundwater for irrigation and consumption was resulting in a net transfer of water from the land to the ocean," said lead author J.T. Reager of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

"What we didn’t realize until now is that over the past decade, changes in the global water cycle more than offset the losses that occurred from groundwater pumping, causing the land to act like a sponge—at least temporarily."

The global water cycle involves the flow of moisture, from the evaporation over the oceans to the fall of precipitation, to runoff and rivers that lead back into the ocean.

Just how much effect on sea level rise this kind of land storage would have has remained unknown until now because there are no land-based instruments that can measure such changes planet-wide.


Parched Earth soaks up water, slowing sea level rise: study

An artist’s depiction of the NASA GRACE satellites and the Earth’s gravity field. Credit: NASA/JPL


The latest data came from a pair of NASA satellites launched in 2002—known as the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE).

Researchers learned that the "water gains over land were spread globally, but taken together they equal the volume of Lake Huron, the world’s seventh largest lake," said a NASA statement.

Researchers said the findings will help scientists better calculate sea level changes in the years ahead.


Parched Earth soaks up water, slowing sea level rise: study

Map of trends in water storage over the continents as measured by the GRACE satellites. Credit: J.T. Reager, NASA /JPL


"These results will lead to a refinement of global sea level budgets, such as those presented in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports, which acknowledge the importance of climate-driven changes in hydrology, but have been unable to include any reliable estimate of their contribution to sea level changes," said senior author Jay Famiglietti, a professor at the University of California, Irvine.

"But we’ll need a much longer data record to fully understand the underlying cause of the patterns and whether they will persist."


Parched Earth soaks up water, slowing sea level rise: study

Updated ocean mass budget. Credit: J.T. Reager, NASA /JPL


Apparently the Earth can be hot and parched, while at the same time it is receiving more rainfall. Put another way, mankind is taking out roughly the same amount from the Earth’s lakes, rivers and aquifers, as is being replenished, at least in global, if not regional, terms.

Notice on the map how areas like the Sahel, East Africa and the Amazon are said to have seen an increase in water storage, contrary to popular myth.

The paper is here.


What makes the paper interesting though was this second study, which appeared three months later:  



Groundwater extraction and other land water contribute about three times less to sea level rise than previous estimates, according to a new study published in the journal Nature Climate Change. The study does not change the overall picture of future sea level rise, but provides a much more accurate understanding of the interactions between water on land, in the atmosphere, and the oceans, which could help to improve future models of sea level rise.

"Projecting accurate sea level rise is important, because rising sea level is a threat to people who live near the ocean and in small islands," explains IIASA researcher Yoshihide Wada, who led the study. "Some low-lying areas will have more frequent flooding, and very low-lying land could be submerged completely. This could also damage substantially coastal infrastructure."

Sea level has risen 1.7 mm per year over the 20th and the early 21st century, a trend that is expected to continue as climate change further warms the planet. Researchers have attributed the rising seas to a combination of factors including melting ice caps and glaciers, thermal expansion (water expands as it gets warmer), and the extraction of groundwater for human use.

Land water contributions are small in comparison to the contribution of ice melt and thermal expansion, yet they have been increasing, leading to concerns that this could exacerbate the problem of sea level rise caused by climate change.

However, much uncertainty remains about how much different sources contribute to sea level rise. In fact, sea level has actually risen more than researchers could account for from the known sources, leading to a gap between observed and modeled global sea-level budget.

Previous studies, including estimates used in the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report, had assumed that nearly 100% of extracted groundwater ended up in the ocean. The new study improves on previous estimates by accounting for feedbacks between the land, ocean, and atmosphere. It finds that number is closer to 80%. That means that the gap between modeled and observed sea level rise is even wider, suggesting that other processes are contributing more water than previously estimated.

"During the 20th century and early 21st century, cumulative groundwater contribution to global sea level was overestimated by at least 10 mm," says Wada. In fact, the new study shows that from 1971 to 2010, the contribution of land water to global sea level rise was actually slightly negative — meaning that more water was stored in groundwater and also due to reservoir impoundment behind dams. From 1993 to 2010, the study estimates terrestrial water as contributing positive 0.12 mm per year to sea level rise. 


In other words, this study came to similar conclusions, that net extraction of groundwater was much less then originally thought.

But note this comment:

In fact, sea level has actually risen more than researchers could account for from the known sources, leading to a gap between observed and modeled global sea-level budget.

The discovery that we have not been busy extracting our groundwater reserves, as enviro-alarmists like to claim, actually means that this gap is now larger. The theoretical contributions to sea level rise, from thermal expansion, melting glaciers and groundwater do not account for all of the sea level rise, which is currently claimed.

While climate grant funded researchers tie themselves in knots trying to explain this conundrum, there is actually a very simple, eloquent and convincing explanation – sea level rise has actually been overestimated.

  1. Tom O permalink
    September 30, 2016 3:35 pm

    I have to say it is obvious this whole research project is bogus. It is another of those “we didn’t know this before things,” and we all know that the science is settled, and the programs are perfect. You can’t have it both ways, always finding new natural reasons for the perfect programs to be mistaken, and claim that there is nothing new, including the Sun, as the science has all the factors and facts it needs to require us to give up life as we know it. They have to make up their minds, assuming, of course, they actually have minds.

    It always amazes me how hard they search for “natural variability” that explains why the programs are off, but still believe the programs are right,

    • September 30, 2016 3:44 pm

      Not to mention we need more money!!

      But we’ll need a much longer data record to fully understand the underlying cause of the patterns and whether they will persist.”

      It never ceases to amaze me how these junk scientists pretend to get significant results from just a few years of data

  2. September 30, 2016 3:49 pm

    Cognitive dissonance is the ability to hold two contradictory beliefs, ideas, or values at the same time. It is something that these charlatans have down to a fine art.

  3. Bloke down the pub permalink
    September 30, 2016 5:04 pm

    A large chunk of the claimed sea level rise is due to adjustments for glacial rebound. I would suggest that if they’re looking to narrow the gap between predictions and the ‘data’, they could do worse than to start looking there.

  4. September 30, 2016 5:11 pm

    Dubious conclusion. We know since 2013 that GRACE was wrong about Antarctic ice loss because the necessary GIA adjustments were way too high. We know from a 2016 study that the same is true for Greenland. We know from water tables (wells) that most are stable and some are declining (northern India, the Ogallalla in the US). This study were true, water tables would be significantly net rising. They arent. Most water table studies have a net decrease.

    • September 30, 2016 5:42 pm

      Further to the point. The largest water retention is supposedly the Amazon and Congo river basins per the post map.. That is geologically impossible. Explained and illustrated in essay PseudoPrecision in ebook Blowing Smoke.

      • September 30, 2016 7:34 pm

        To be fair, this is not “absolute”, only trends in water retention

      • John F. Hultquist permalink
        September 30, 2016 10:37 pm

        Both river systems are capable of growing spatially, doing so with the movement of rains. It doesn’t sound as though that is what they are saying. “Retention” and the rest seems like ground water, but they also use the phrase “land water.” I don’t recall ever seeing such before, “fresh water” as in lakes and rivers, but land-water, no.

    • September 30, 2016 7:33 pm

      Please stop using common sense Rud!

      The models MUST BE RIGHT

      • catweazle666 permalink
        September 30, 2016 9:10 pm

        Absolutely, Paul!

        After all, THE SCIENCE IS SETTLED!\

        Isn’t it?

    • Billy Liar permalink
      September 30, 2016 9:30 pm

      My theory is that GRACE is wrong about absolutely everything. It measures very small changes in gravity. There is no note attached to the measured change saying ‘this change is a result of a change in subterranean water retention’ or ‘this change is because of seismic activity’. They really are only guessing what causes the gravity change. Unfortunately, almost everything else with the capability to change local gravity is many times more dense than water!

  5. tom0mason permalink
    September 30, 2016 11:25 pm

    Why measure anything on site any more when a satellites, far above the surface can do it all. Once the satellite readings have been adjusted, filtered, statistically tweaked and re-jigged, the computer model will show …
    guess what …
    — yep, we can have it fit our preconceived theory!

    So, it’s case close.
    The new virtualised planet has been proved real because it fits the message, and is as useful as a chocolate rocking-horse.

    I wonder what is really happening…
    Maybe someone, somewhere will get off their great flabby complacence and actually go out, do the hard slog to discover something of merit for science.

  6. tom0mason permalink
    September 30, 2016 11:57 pm

    “During the 20th century and early 21st century, cumulative groundwater contribution to global sea level was overestimated by at least 10 mm,” says Wada.

    Guess what Wada, humans may just recycle water through their bodies but…
    the human population has grown over the 20th century by about 7 billion (from about 2billion to about 9billion). Humans are about 60-65% water. Averaging on the conservative side of about 35 litres per person, that that’s close to 250 billion litres carried around the planet just by the additional human population over that time period.
    Now add in all the cattle, pig, and chicken population increases we have managed and computer model that.

    Cheers, and another cup of tea…

  7. dangeroosdave permalink
    October 1, 2016 1:55 am

    The science is settled. We’re all gonna die.

    • October 3, 2016 5:43 pm

      True, but the debate seems to be about how miserable we should make ourselves in the mean time. Given the ultimate end I tend to think enjoying this plantet’s beauty and bounty makes perfect sense. Others won’t be happy unless I spend the next 30-40 (hopefully) years starving, freezing, self-flagellating and apologizing for my birth.

  8. Graeme No.3 permalink
    October 1, 2016 4:35 am

    Well, the parched earth in most of Australia has received its share and more to boot. The floods are heading for the sea.

  9. October 3, 2016 1:53 pm

    Reblogged this on Climate Collections.

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