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Hydrological Excitation of Polar Motion Derived from GRACE Gravity Field Solutions

DOI: 10.1155/2011/174396

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The influence of the continental water storage on the polar motion is not well known. Different models have been developed to evaluate these effects and compared to geodetic observations. However, previous studies have shown large discrepancies mainly attributed to the lack of global measurements of related hydrological parameters. Now, from the observations of the GRACE mission, we can estimate the polar motion excitation due to the global hydrology. Data processing of GRACE data is carried out by several centers of analysis, we focus on the new solution computed by the Groupe de Recherche de Géodésie Spatiale. At annual scales, excitations derived from GRACE data are in better agreement with geodetic observations than models estimates. The main contribution to the hydrological excitation comes from the monsoon climates regions where GRACE and models estimates are in a very good agreement. Still, the effect of the north high latitudes regions, where the principal areas of snow cover are found, cannot be neglected. At these regions, GRACE and models estimated contributions to polar motion excitations show significant discrepancies. Finally, GRACE-based excitations reveal the possible influence of water storage variations in exciting polar motion around the frequency of 3 cycles per year. 1. Introduction The excitation of polar motion is, to a large extent, related to the mass redistribution of geophysical fluids. The importance of atmospheric and oceanic angular momentum signals at monthly and seasonal periods is well known. The contribution of the continental hydrological signals, originating from land water, snow, and ice, is, however, less known. A number of previous studies have estimated hydrological excitation from climatological measurements, numerical climate models, and global hydrology models based upon the observed distribution of surface water, snow, ice, and soil moisture [1–5]. The hydrological part of polar motion excitation can also be obtained, as a residual series, by removing atmospheric and oceanic signals from the geodetic excitation of polar motion. The general conclusion of these studies is that the change in continental water storage plays a major role in the seasonal polar motion although the results of the hydrological models do not agree with each other and with observed polar motion [6, 7]. This is mainly due to the lack of global measurements of related hydrological parameters which are difficult to predict (like evaporation, run-off, groundwater, and snow/ice mass change). Other analyses show that hydrological signals seem


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