Humans Are Pumping Out Excessive Amount Of Groundwater That Is Changing Earth Tilt

Scientists recently conducted a study that discovered that Earth tilt changed between 1993 and 2010 by 31.5 inches (approximately 80 centimeters). This change is due to the amount of groundwater pumped from the Earth’s interior by humans. Scientists estimated that humans have extracted about 2,150 gigatons of water from the natural reservoirs in the Earth’s crust within that period.

The Researchers revealed that the global sea level would increase by 0.24 inches (6 millimeters) if such an amount of water removed by humans was poured into the global ocean. Scientists that conducted this study revealed that the massive amount of water extracted from our planet’s crust is affecting the axis around Earth’s spins.

How Scientists Came Up with this fascinating discovery

Researchers concluded the study by modeling the changes in the position of our planet’s rotational pole. This is the point at which Earth’s imaginary axis would push out of the surface assuming it existed as a physical object. The scientists discovered that the position of the rotational pole is not in line with the geographical north and south poles.

However, they change with time. Hence, the rotational axis passes via different spots on Earth’s crust at various regions within a specific time. Scientists have been studying the rotational pole for some years now. In 2016, they came to understand that the rotational pole of our planet is affected by climate-like processes.

Some of these processes include the thawing of icebergs and sharing of the mass of the water contained in them. Scientists added pumped-out groundwater to these icebergs to match their observations.

“Earth’s rotational pole actually changes a lot,” Ki-Weon Seo, a geophysicist at Seoul National University who led the study, said in a statement. “Our study shows that among climate-related causes, the redistribution of groundwater actually has the largest impact on the drift of the rotational pole.”

What Scientists Think About This Change in Earth Tilt

Scientists previously discovered that the Earth’s tilt has some effect on the weather of every season occurring on the surface of our planet. Hence, the researchers that participated in this study are now wondering if the shifts of the rotational pole could worsen or improve climate change for an extended period of time.

“Observing changes in Earth’s rotational pole is useful for understanding continent-scale water storage variations,” Seo said. “Polar motion data are available from as early as the late 19th century. So, we can potentially use those data to understand continental water storage variations during the last 100 years. Were there any hydrological regime changes resulting from the warming climate? A polar motion could hold the answer.”

Generally, the Earth’s rotational pole adjusts by several meters every year. However, so much pumped-out groundwater contributed to this shift depending on the exact point they are located on Earth. Scientists used the new study to reveal that water pumped out from mid-latitudes has the greatest impact on the tilt of the Earth.


Humans need water to survive. The quest to source clean water has inspired us to pump out so much amount of groundwater that it affects the Earth’s tilt. Hence, scientists that participated in this new study reveal that if we could manage the amount of groundwater we pump out from the Earth’s interior, we could limit the shifts of the rotational poles and reduce the impact of climate changes that comes with them.

What do you think about this fascinating discovery about the adjustment in the Earth’s tilt due to so much amount of pump-up groundwater by humans?

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