Articles | Volume 24, issue 10
Research article
13 Oct 2020
Research article |  | 13 Oct 2020

Assessing global water mass transfers from continents to oceans over the period 1948–2016

Denise Cáceres, Ben Marzeion, Jan Hendrik Malles, Benjamin Daniel Gutknecht, Hannes Müller Schmied, and Petra Döll

Data sets

World glacier monitoring service under the auspices of: ISC (WDS), IUGG (IACS), UN environment, UNESCO, WMO World Glacier Monitoring Service

Multivariate ENSO Index Version 2 (MEI.v2) NOAA Physical Sciences Laboratory

Short summary
We analysed how and to which extent changes in water storage on continents had an effect on global ocean mass over the period 1948–2016. Continents lost water to oceans at an accelerated rate, inducing sea level rise. Shrinking glaciers explain 81 % of the long-term continental water mass loss, while declining groundwater levels, mainly due to sustained groundwater pumping for irrigation, is the second major driver. This long-term decline was partly offset by the impoundment of water in dams.