A paper published in the Journal Science by Benjamin Chao and others of National Central University in Taiwan takes an interesting perspective on how the worlds 30,000 dams can be responsible for avoiding a 3 cm sea level rise. The paper argues that water stored in those dams could have prevented the sea level from rising by about 3 cm.
Of course such a direct interpretation of the results will open this study to a number of queries from the scientific community, but it presents a notion that if we were to store enough water (I am not encouraging dams here - as some of these are responsible for a number of environmental catastrophes around the world) we could slow down sea level rise. This would imply restoration of many of the planets degraded lakes, groundwater and river systems.
However, we have witnessed in the recent decade the drying up of a number of lakes and water bodies. Few shocking examples come to mind:
(1) By comparison of satellite images of over 11,000 lakes in Siberia (Russia) taken in the early 1970s with images taken between 1997 and 2004, it was found that more than a thousand lakes have become smaller and over 125 lakes had disappeared in under 30 years. Similarly more than 10,000 of Alaska's lakes (Arctic Circle) have dried up in the last 50 years especially due to global warming.
These satellite images of lakes in Siberia taken in 1973 (left) and 1997 (right) show a decline in the size and number of lakes in the region. Click for larger view. (Courtesy Laurence Smith, UCLA)
(2) Lake Powell (USA) which feeds the Hoover Dam in the US is slated to run out of water in under 13 years.
Rising demand for human and industrial development places enormous pressure on the planet's freshwater lakes and groundwater aquifers, so the obvious conclusion is that we are removing much of the freshwater of the planet rather than storing them, so the claim that dams are slowing down sea level rise needs further scrutiny. Only by reducing emissions and restoring ecological balance can we slow down sea level rise.