Impact of Artificial Reservoir Water Impoundment on Global Sea Level

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Science  11 Apr 2008:
Vol. 320, Issue 5873, pp. 212-214
DOI: 10.1126/science.1154580

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By reconstructing the history of water impoundment in the world's artificial reservoirs, we show that a total of ∼10,800 cubic kilometers of water has been impounded on land to date, reducing the magnitude of global sea level (GSL) rise by –30.0 millimeters, at an average rate of –0.55 millimeters per year during the past half century. This demands a considerably larger contribution to GSL rise from other (natural and anthropogenic) causes than otherwise required. The reconstructed GSL history, accounting for the impact of reservoirs by adding back the impounded water volume, shows an essentially constant rate of rise at +2.46 millimeters per year over at least the past 80 years. This value is contrary to the conventional view of apparently variable GSL rise, which is based on face values of observation.

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