Impact of self-attraction and loading on Earth rotation

Monday, 15 December 2014
Katherine J Quinn, AER, Lexington, MA, United States, Rui M Ponte, Atmospheric and Environmental Research, Lexington, MA, United States and Mark E Tamisiea, National Oceanography Centre, Liverpool, United Kingdom
The impact of self-attraction and loading (SAL) on Earth rotation has not been previously considered except at annual timescales. We estimate Earth rotation excitations using models of atmospheric, oceanic, and land hydrology surface mass variations and investigate the importance of including SAL over monthly to interannual timescales. We assess SAL effects in comparison with simple mass balance effects where net mass exchanged with the atmosphere and land is distributed uniformly over the global ocean. For oceanic polar motion excitations, SAL impacts are important even though mass balance impact is minor except at the annual period. This is true of global (atmosphere+land+ocean) polar motion excitations as well, although the SAL impacts are smaller. When estimating length-of-day excitations, mass balance effects have a dominant impact, particularly for oceanic excitation. Although SAL can have a significant impact on estimated Earth rotation excitations, its consideration did not improve comparisons with geodetic observations. This result may change in the future as surface mass models and Earth rotation observations improve.