The Earth’s variable Chandler wobble
Observatoire de Paris, Département Systèmes de Référence Temps Espace
(SYRTE), CNRS/UMR 8630, 75014
Accepted: 17 November 2010
Aims. We investigated the causes of the Earth’s Chandler wobble variability over the past 60 years. Our approach is based on integrating of the atmospheric and oceanic angular momentum computed by global circulation models. We directly compared the result of the integration with the Earth’s pole coordinate observed by precise astrometric, space, and geodetic techniques. This approach differs from the traditional approach in which the observed polar motion is transformed into a so-called geodetic excitation function, and compared afterwards with the angular momentum of the external geophysical fluid layers.
Methods. In the time domain, we integrated the atmospheric angular momentum time series from the National Center for Environmental Prediction/National Center for Atmospheric Research Reanalysis project and the oceanic angular momentum data from the ECCO consortium. We extracted the Chandler wobble from this modeled polar motion by singular spectrum analysis, and compared it with the Chandler wobble extracted from the observed polar motion given by the International Earth Rotation and Reference Systems Service data.
Results. We showed that the combination of the atmosphere and the oceans explains most of the observed Chandler wobble variations, and is consistent with results reported in the literature and obtained with the traditional approach. Our approach allows one to appreciate the separate contributions of the atmosphere and the oceans to the various bumps and valleys observed in the Chandler wobble. Though the atmosphere explains the Chandler wobble amplitude variations between 1949 and 1970, the reexcitation of the Chandler wobble that begins in the 1980s, after a minimum around 1970, and that reaches its maximum in the late 1990s is due to the oceans, while the atmospheric contribution remains stable within the same period.
Key words: reference systems / Earth
© ESO, 2011