Groundwater Extraction Shifted the Earth’s Axis: What a New Study Says

Groundwater Extraction
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In a groundbreaking research study named “Drift of Earth’s Pole Confirms Groundwater Depletion as a Significant Contributor to Global Sea Level Rise 1993–2010,” the relentless extraction of groundwater for the essential purposes of drinking and irrigation have triggered an undeniable shift in the Earth’s axis of rotation.

This article aims to meticulously dissect the intricate findings of the study above, unraveling the complex web of knowledge and illuminating insights into the multifaceted consequences of groundwater depletion. Furthermore, it expounds upon the intricate interplay between this ecological catastrophe and the complicated global sea-level dynamics, transcending linguistic and geographical barriers.

Groundwater Extraction and Earth’s Axis Shift

According to the research, humans have extracted around 2,150 gigatons of groundwater from 1993 to 2010. This extensive pumping has caused a slow shift in the Earth’s axis, moving it about 4.36 cm per year towards the east.

Although the immediate impact of this axis shift might not be noticeable in our daily lives, it highlights the connection between excessive groundwater extraction and its influence on the planet’s axis, contributing to the rise in global sea levels.

YouTube/WION/Gravitas: Earth’s axis is shifting..

Understanding Earth’s Axis and Polar Motion

It is crucial to grasp the concept of Earth’s axis and polar motion. Earth rotates around an imaginary axis that passes through the north and south poles, like a top spinning around its spindle. Natural shifts in mass distribution within the planet cause the poles and axis to change position over time, a phenomenon known as “polar motion.”

Various factors contribute to polar motion, including the circulation of rocks within Earth’s mantle and natural occurrences like ocean currents and hurricanes. However, human activities have also been found to impact this phenomenon.

Previous research has shown that climate-driven changes in water mass distribution, primarily due to melting glaciers and ice in Greenland, can cause the Earth’s axis to drift. Climate change has recently amplified this shift beyond normal levels observed since the 1990s.

Also read: Europe Must Prepare for More Deadly Heatwaves, Warns New Report

Research Methodology and Findings

The study conducted by Ki-Weon Seo and a team of researchers aimed to determine the factors influencing the Earth’s rotational axis. By analyzing observational data spanning 17 years and utilizing a computer model, they sought to identify the primary contributors to axis drift. Initially, their predictions did not align with the observed shift in previous years.

Seo explained that after incorporating groundwater data, the estimated variations in the spin axis matched the observations remarkably well. They led the team to conclude that the extraction and redistribution of groundwater had the most significant impact on the drift of the Earth’s rotational pole.

Notably, groundwater extraction from North America and northwestern India at midlatitudes substantially influenced polar motion more than extraction at the bars or equator.

Moreover, the water extracted from the ground for irrigation and meeting freshwater demands ultimately finds its way into the oceans. Seo and his team confirmed that groundwater extraction is a primary contributor to rising sea levels globally.

Their calculations concurred with previous research, which estimated that groundwater extraction raised international sea levels by 6.24mm between 1993 and 2010.

Implications and Future Considerations

While the observed shift in Earth’s axis due to groundwater extraction might not have immediate consequences, it serves as a stark reminder of the ecological impact of human activities.

The depletion of groundwater reserves alters the planet’s rotational dynamics. It contributes to the rise in global sea levels, exacerbating the risks associated with climate change.

Understanding the intricate relationship between groundwater extraction, polar motion, and sea level rise is vital for developing sustainable strategies to mitigate the adverse effects.

Conservation efforts, responsible water management, and the promotion of alternative irrigation methods are crucial steps toward ensuring the long-term stability of Earth’s axis and mitigating the threats posed by rising sea levels.

Also read: 10 Ways to Protect the Environment


To sum up, the groundbreaking research on how the Earth’s axis is changing because of groundwater extraction emphasizes humans’ enormous influence on our planet. The excessive pumping of groundwater, whether for drinking or irrigation, has caused a gradual shift in how the Earth rotates and has even led to higher sea levels worldwide.

We must acknowledge our actions’ ecological impact, take proactive steps to preserve our water resources and address climate change. By doing this, we can protect the stability of the Earth’s axis and ensure a sustainable future for generations to come.

Tez Pratap

I am Tezz Pratap, a passionate and creative content creator and blogger. I specialize in writing articles and am known for my expertise in this domain.

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