Journal of Geodesy

, Volume 83, Issue 7, pp 635–644 | Cite as

An improved empirical model for the effect of long-period ocean tides on polar motion

  • Richard S. GrossEmail author
Open Access
Original Article


Because the tide-raising potential is symmetric about the Earth’s polar axis it can excite polar motion only by acting upon non-axisymmetric features of the Earth like the oceans. In fact, after removing atmospheric and non-tidal oceanic effects, polar motion excitation observations show a strong fortnightly tidal signal that is not completely explained by existing dynamical and empirical ocean tide models. So a new empirical model for the effect of the termensual (Mtm and mtm), fortnightly (Mf and mf), and monthly (Mm) tides on polar motion is derived here by fitting periodic terms at these tidal frequencies to polar motion excitation observations that span 2 January 1980 to 8 September 2006 and from which atmospheric and non-tidal oceanic effects have been removed. While this new empirical tide model can fully explain the observed fortnightly polar motion excitation signal during this time interval it would still be desirable to have a model for the effect of long-period ocean tides on polar motion that is determined from a dynamical ocean tide model and that is therefore independent of polar motion observations.


Earth rotation Polar motion Ocean tides Oceanic angular momentum Atmospheric angular Momentum 



I thank S. Dickman for his thoughtful review that led to many improvements to this manuscript. The work described in this paper was performed at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, under contract with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Support for this work was provided by the Earth Surface and Interior Focus Area of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. The supercomputers used in this investigation were provided by funding from the JPL Office of the Chief Information Officer.

Open Access

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Jet Propulsion LaboratoryCalifornia Institute of TechnologyPasadenaUSA

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