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I have been reading the discussion about pumping sea water into the desert for purposes of irrigation and changing the dry climate of that area, but what about to just purely offset the rising sea levels? Could pumping ocean water (with solar power) north of Malibu California into the dry areas help with coastline erosion and put water into the desert as a secondary but not primary benefit? I am a completely non-scientific person who just happens to have an interest in coastal erosion so I welcome all your educated thoughts on this. Ideally it would be done in all the deserts globally to have a coordinated effort. Think of the infrastructure jobs in places like Africa. It would require a “world bank” initiative to create the funds to do this but as a global coordinated effort it may be required as part of planet rehabilitation. Yes I said “create” the funds, ie “print money” which would have a slightly inflationary effect on world economies but would mostly “inflate” depressed economies through wealth redistribution since these economies would likely be the major supply of labor. Like we see in Canada when the people from poor fishing towns went to work on the pipelines and brought cash back home.

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    $\begingroup$ There's a related question about pumping water into the desert here: earthscience.stackexchange.com/questions/7553/… $\endgroup$ Jan 9 '20 at 17:39
  • $\begingroup$ Farmer John calculates that the Qattara depression in Egypt would hold 3mm of sea level. $\endgroup$ Jan 9 '20 at 23:13
  • $\begingroup$ "Can Huge Man-Made Lakes Fix Our Rising Sea Levels?" says 3cm of sea level for all land which is below sea level and dry. $\endgroup$ Jan 9 '20 at 23:23
  • $\begingroup$ Water is heavy so the result is less change in sea level relative to land than you might expect.Some of it will flow back to oceans.The flow causes erosion which is contrary to what you want.Adding to the water table makes the sea level will rise.Because we have coercive governments wealth can be redistributed without possibly wasteful infrastructure building.Thus infrastructure should be considered separately from the need to redistribute.If the infrastructure is a net beneficial public good then it is a good idea.An impermeable barrier around a desert is costly.Will cost exceed benefit? $\endgroup$
    – H2ONaCl
    May 10 at 2:28
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    $\begingroup$ Most of the water that do not flow to the oceans directly will evaporate and go to the oceans as rain. Some water may go in earth cavities (underground water). The existing underground water may become more salty. $\endgroup$ Jul 8 at 19:42
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No.

Imagine making another Lake Superior, the 3rd most voluminous lake on Earth, which according to Wikipedia holds 10% of the world's fresh surface water (excluding the ice in Antarctica). It has a volume of 12,100 km3, and would cover about one-fifth of California (at the same depth of about 150 m).

The ocean has an area of 361 million km2, so removing another Lake Superior's worth of water would reduce its depth $d$ by:

$$\Delta d = \frac{12.1\times 10^3}{361 \times 10^6} = 33.5\times 10^{-6}\ \mathrm{km, or}\ 33.5\ \mathrm{mm} $$

... a bit over one inch. According to sealevelrise.org, this is about 10 years' worth of rise.

If you had 639 5400-horsepower Pentair Fairbanks Nijhuis pumps (the most powerful pump in the world, built for keeping the Netherlands dry), you could pump at 38 million litres per second and keep up with sea-level change (not accounting for evaporation or rainfall). At 4000 kW per pump, I think this would require the combined output from the six or seven largest solar farms in California, or a bit more than the output of the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of other factors controlling local sea-level; see this other answer for example. Not to mention the issue of figuring out where this saline lake will go...

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Taking water out of the sea does require energy to lift it even if it's destination will eventually be below sea level. The dam idea of retaining rain water would require energy and resources for the production of the dam and require the loss of usable land. That is not the best dam way to approach this solution.

Removing water up stream, from say the Mississippi or Rio Grande, could be diverted to a lower elevation area via a pipeline or canal system. This too would require energy and resources to build, but the fresh water could at least be sent to areas that are currently unusable arid areas. This would result in a greening effect without the risk of contaminating water tables below. Another benifit would be the ability to increase the amount available farm land without the need of taking water from an already depleted ground water source. Also replenishment of water tables would occur, and your end goal of reducing the amount of water entering the ocean would be accomplished.

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    $\begingroup$ Josh. Mankind has been damming rivers and moving water around since the dawn of civilization. But it's in no way a panacea. To meaningfully move water around requires massive infrastructure, massive amounts of energy and a willingness to disrupt the ecology and economy of the areas downstream of your diversion. Rivers like the Rio Grande are already overexploited. $\endgroup$
    – Andy M
    May 7 at 16:08
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In Californa the low lying areas would hold huge quantities of water in Salt Desert Areas. Many benefits would result from moving water from the ocean to fill these areas. There are thousands of Engineers in California. The Billionaires in the world need to follow Elon Musks example to Save the World. Using a Siphon System the water needs to come over the coastal mountains and into the Dry Lake area below sea level. The water coming down the mountain needs to be used to generate electricity from turbines in the pipelines. An experiment that uses water power to REPLACE BATTERIES proves that you can pump water to the top of your house and then run a water turbine to generate the electricity for the pump. This setup uses solar with NO BATTERIES. The same setup will work using Ocean water to fill the dry Salt Lakes. An underground pipeline could be used to return water to the ocean OR just using pumps to create storage on top of the mountain for the return of the SALTY WATER to the ocean.
SEVERAL BENEFITS ARE:

  1. Water Vapor in the Salt Lakes from natural Evaporation will be caught in the Sierra Mountains and returned as Fresh Water for Towns Cities and Farms.
  2. Electricity will be produced by the water at the higher elevations whether drawn by pumps or the syphon effect or both.
  3. Batteries for Solar Power Storage would be Eliminated.
  4. Saline water will save the Coastal Ecosystems dying from the reduction of Same. and Bring back the Fishing Industry.
  5. Water returned to the sea can be used for making electricity.
  6. Damage to low lying coastal areas can be mitigated by this system.
  7. Local Communities can benefit from the use of the Storage Areas as batteries.
  8. The salts of the the Lake can be made into batteries for storage.
  9. The once happy residents of the Evaporated Salt Lakes will have a tourism industry again.
  10. The Salts of the Lake can be used to fight health issues as it has in the past raising the level of the immune system in the fight against Covid.

DGALLIHER TX.

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DAVID ARNE GALLIHER is a new contributor to this site. Take care in asking for clarification, commenting, and answering. Check out our Code of Conduct.
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    $\begingroup$ this does not answer the question,the question is can you lower sea level by moving the water into storage on land. $\endgroup$ 2 days ago
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Yes, it could reduce sea level rise, but it would be no good for irrigation. Many deserts, like the Aral Sea and Death Valley, are below sea level. This means you would not need to use energy to pump the water, but could use the siphon principle. Some people say that even if you filled all these low-lying deserts with sea water, it would not do much to lower sea level. However, it would have many other beneficial effects, especially in the Aral Sea. It would greatly improve marine transport, create new fisheries, prevent the present salt desert being blown onto agricultural land, and quite likely change the climate so there would be more precipitation.

Another way to reduce sea level, though it would be only by a tiny amount, would be to build more dams. Deprived of the held-back rain water, the sea level would reduce a little if enough rainwater was prevented from reaching the sea. The dams would produce carbon neutral power, create fisheries and be used for irrigation. On the other hand, if the proposed dams on the Nile are anything to go by, they also have the potential to start wars unless they are sited with great care and good international diplomacy and cooperation.

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    $\begingroup$ Well, one would need a many hundreds if not 1000km long frictionless pipe and dam construction without greenhouse gas emission. Doesn't sound like a plan ... $\endgroup$
    – user18607
    Jan 9 '20 at 18:35
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    $\begingroup$ The energy needed to pump the water would be enormous. Check again sea levels. $\endgroup$
    – user18607
    Jan 9 '20 at 18:48
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    $\begingroup$ It is not personal. You're just violating the rules of citing. SE explicitly encourages to downvote unsupported posts. Caspian is below, Aral above msl, right ? To get water from C to A, we must pump it up, not let it pour down. Or have i misunderstood ? $\endgroup$
    – user18607
    Jan 9 '20 at 18:57
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    $\begingroup$ i doubt much more to create a lagoon on those basins wouls afect a lot sea level. Even a big surface, the new sea wouldn't bee very deep $\endgroup$
    – user18590
    Jan 9 '20 at 19:29
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    $\begingroup$ A few meters, yes. The Aral Sea is more of a pan than a pot. I am still hopeful that @MichaelWalsby actually researches an answer before posting. I'll be the first to upvote (if fast enough). $\endgroup$
    – user18607
    Jan 9 '20 at 19:38

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