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Parched Earth Soaks Up Water, Helps Reduce Rising Sea Levels

First Posted: Feb 16, 2016 03:21 PM EST

A hot and parched Earth may have an influence on rising seas levels. Melting glaciers and ice sheets released massive amounts of fresh water, which increases sea levels. In the latest study, NASA researchers found that a hot Earth might be soaking some that water inland, which may help slow down sea-level rise.

With the use of Satellite measurements, the team found that over the last decade, Earth's continents have soaked up and stored about 3.2 trillion tons of water in soils, lakes and underground aquifers. This has slowed down sea-level rise by almost 20 percent, according to the researchers.

"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," J.T. Reager, coauthor of the study, said in a news release. "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 researchers gathered their data from a pair of NASA satellites, the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE), which were launched in 2002. These latest findings can enable scientists to calculate and make more accurate predictions on climate change and rising sea levels.

The findings of this study were published in the journal Science.

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