Journal of Geodesy

, Volume 89, Issue 4, pp 377–390 | Cite as

Separation of atmospheric, oceanic and hydrological polar motion excitation mechanisms based on a combination of geometric and gravimetric space observations

  • F. GöttlEmail author
  • M. Schmidt
  • F. Seitz
  • M. Bloßfeld
Original Article


The goal of our study is to determine accurate time series of geophysical Earth rotation excitations to learn more about global dynamic processes in the Earth system. For this purpose, we developed an adjustment model which allows to combine precise observations from space geodetic observation systems, such as Satellite Laser Ranging (SLR), Global Navigation Satellite Systems, Very Long Baseline Interferometry, Doppler Orbit determination and Radiopositioning Integrated on Satellite, satellite altimetry and satellite gravimetry in order to separate geophysical excitation mechanisms of Earth rotation. Three polar motion time series are applied to derive the polar motion excitation functions (integral effect). Furthermore we use five time variable gravity field solutions from Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment to determine not only the integral mass effect but also the oceanic and hydrological mass effects by applying suitable filter techniques and a land–ocean mask. For comparison the integral mass effect is also derived from degree 2 potential coefficients that are estimated from SLR observations. The oceanic mass effect is also determined from sea level anomalies observed by satellite altimetry by reducing the steric sea level anomalies derived from temperature and salinity fields of the oceans. Due to the combination of all geodetic estimated excitations the weaknesses of the individual processing strategies can be reduced and the technique-specific strengths can be accounted for. The formal errors of the adjusted geodetic solutions are smaller than the RMS differences of the geophysical model solutions. The improved excitation time series can be used to improve the geophysical modeling.


Polar motion excitation functions Combination of geodetic space observations Separation of individual mass and motion effects 



This study has been carried out within the project P9 “Combined analysis and validation of Earth rotation models and observations” of the research unit FOR 584 “Earth Rotation and Global Dynamic Processes” funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG). We would like to thank the three anonymous reviewers for their careful reading and constructive comments.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Deutsches Geodätisches ForschungsinstitutMunichGermany
  2. 2.Lehrstuhl für Geodätische Geodynamik, Technische Universität München/Deutsches Geodätisches ForschungsinstitutMunichGermany

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