, Volume 14, Issue 1, pp 1-29

The axial momentum balance of Earth and its fluid envelope

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Abstract

The emergence of greatly improved data sets over the past decade has heightened awareness of the close relationship between changes in the axial component of the angular momentum of the atmosphere and that of the solid Earth, the latter being reflected in small, though detectable, changes in the planet's rate of rotation. Changes in the large-scale wind field, and hence in atmospheric angular momentum, on intraseasonal through interannual time scales can be associated with a number of identifiable meteorological phenomena, whose further study has been given new impetus by the discovery of their signals in Earth's rotation. Future advances in the subject are apt to occur in connection with new data sets that will help address questions remaining about rapid changes in Earth rotation and the torques responsible for the momentum changes. Also in the coming decade, both new data and modeling approaches should help clarify the role of the oceanic portion of Earth's fluid envelope in the planetary momentum balance.