SEA levels are not rising as fast as experts had feared as the water is being soaked up by the LAND.
Scientists have been analysing satellite images from NASA, which for the first time has allowed experts to identify and quantify how water storage on land has affected the pace in which sea levels are rising.
Rising sea levels are a major argument in environmentalists’ arsenal, with panicked green activists fearing the Earth will drown under water due to global warming.
A study led by the University of California and the space agency itself shows the Earth’s soils across the continents have soaked up and stored 3.2 trillion tons of water in the last decade, slowing the pace of rising sea levels by 20%.
A report published in the journal Science explains a vast amount of water evaporates from the ocean each year and falls on land as either rain or snow.
This water is then returned to the ocean through rivers in a natural system known as the global hydrological cycle.
It has always been known that not all of this water is returned to the ocean due to it being soaked up by the Earth, but scientists had no idea that such a large amount was staying in the land, thus offsetting the damage caused by melting ice caps.
Lead author J.T. Reager of Nasa’s jet propulsion laboratory (JPL) said: “We didn’t realise 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.
“These new data are vital for understanding variations in sea level change.”
University of California’s Jay Famiglietti added: “This is the first study to observe these changing water storage patterns on land and their impact on modulating current rates of sea level rise.”