Humans pump so much groundwater that we may no longer have 4 seasons

Earth’s rotational axis tilted east by more than 78.7 cm
Humans pump so much groundwater that we may no longer have 4 seasons
Earth's axis

Unless you live in or near Earth’s ice poles, most people enjoy four seasons per year, but we siphon so much groundwater that we might one day have one season throughout the year.

That’s because the groundwater that humans pump out has caused the Earth’s axis to shift, and to make matters even worse, led to rising sea levels, helping escalate catastrophic weather patterns.

Some planets, such as Mercury, Venus, and Jupiter, have axes that are nearly completely perpendicular. But Earth’s axis has a tilt, or obliquity, which is about 23.5 degrees and that allows the sun to shine on different latitudes at different angles throughout the year, causing the seasons.  The Earth rotates on a north-south axis at a rate of about 1,609 kilometers per hour.

Read: ADNOC, TAQA to develop $2.4 bn UAE mega water project

To be clear, reducing groundwater reservoirs is not the only culprit helping the earth shift its axis. Ocean currents, water kept in artificial reservoirs, and melting glaciers can all result in the transfer of mass distribution on Earth and trigger a mild drift in its axis due to their periodic nature.

But unless humans stop sucking water out of the ground, we may find ourselves having our seasons go from 4 to 3 and maybe just 1, one day.

Groundwater resources

Groundwater is a key source of drinking water and crop irrigation. Rocky reservoirs known as aquifers are estimated to store 1,000 times more water than all the world’s surface rivers and lakes.

Earlier records show that over 2,150 gigatons of extracted groundwater, which in the end flows back into the oceans, caused 6.24 millimeters of sea-level rise between 1993 and 2010, while between 2006 and 2015, global sea levels rose about 3.6 millimeters each year.

According to a US government Survey,  There are about 23,400,000 Km3 of groundwater around the globe comprising 1.69% of the total water on Earth. About 30 percent of freshwater on Earth comes in the form of groundwater.

Groundwater pumping can help in parts of the world where rain is scarce or are heavily impacted by drought as a result of climate change. But these subterranean reserves of liquid water are finite and hard to replenish once extracted.


Axis of upheaval

More than a decade’s worth of persistent groundwater extraction has managed to shift the axis on which our planet rotates, helping it lean over to the east at a rate of about 4.3 centimeters each year, according to a recent study.

The study’s author Ki-Weon Seo, a professor in the Department of Earth science education at Seoul National University, South Korea, explained in a news release: “Our study shows that among climate-related causes, the redistribution of groundwater actually has the largest impact on the drift of the rotational pole.”

The redistribution of groundwater tilted Earth’s rotational axis east by more than 78.7 centimeters in just under two decades, according to the study models.

For more energy stories, click here.

The stories on our website are intended for informational purposes only. Those with finance, investment, tax or legal content are not to be taken as financial advice or recommendation. Refer to our full disclaimer policy here.