Atmospheric excitation of polar motion

Author: David Salstein
December 4, 2000
Journal Article
ASP Conference Series

Salstein, D.A., 2000: Atmospheric excitation of polar motion. In Polar Motion: Historical and scientific problems, ASP Conference Series, International Astronomical Union 437-446.

Variations in the angular momentum of the atmosphere in the equatorial plane due to shifts in air mass distribution and changing winds impact the orientation of Earth so that motions of the pole occur on a broad range of time scales. The wind terms have notable diurnal fluctuations, which appear as a tidal signature. Subseasonal fluctuations of the pole are shown to be related to the atmospheric signal on scales as short as at least a week, according to a coherency analysis. Atmospheric mass fluctuations over certain region, such as Eurasia and North America, appear to be more responsible for rapid polar motions than are those elsewhere, and may be related to known climate modes. On the other hand, atmospheric pressure fluctuations over the ocean are counteracted in large measure by a sea level response, due to an inverted barometer relationship. Ocean forcing from model results assist in narrowing the differences in the geodetic and atmospheric budgets. Efforts to assess dynamic forecasts of the atmospheric polar motion excitations have demonstrated positive skill out to at least 10 days for the mass term.