Further evidence for oceanic excitation of polar motion

Author: J. Nastula and Rui M. Ponte
Date: 
May 17, 1999
Type: 
Journal Article
Venue: 
Geophysical Journal International
Citation: 

Nastula, J., and R.M. Ponte, 1999. Further evidence for oceanic excitation of polar motion. Geophysical Journal International, 139, 123-130.

While the role of the atmosphere in driving variations in polar motion is well established, the importance of the oceans has been recognized only recently. Further evidence for the role of the oceans in the excitation of polar motion is presented. To estimate the equatorial excitation functions, χ1 and χ2 , for the ocean, we use velocity and mass fields from a constant-density ocean model, driven by observed surface wind stresses and atmospheric pressure, for the period 1993–1995; comparison with similar functions derived from a more complex density-stratified ocean model indicates the effectiveness of the simple constant-density modelling approach. Corresponding atmospheric excitation functions are computed from NCEP/NCAR re-analyses. Results indicate significant improvements in the agreement with the observed polar motion excitation when the simulated oceanic effects are added to atmospheric excitation. Correlations between the polar motion and the geophysical signals at periods of 15–150 days increase from 0.53 to 0.80 and from 0.75 to 0.88 for χ1 and χ2 , respectively. The oceanic signals are particularly important for seasonal variations in χ1 (correlation increases from 0.28 to 0.85 when oceanic excitation is included). A positive impact of the oceans on more rapid polar motion is also observed, up to periods as short as 5 days. The sensitivity of the results to different forcing fields and different amounts of friction in the oceans is also discussed.