The dynamics of atmospherically driven intraseasonal polar motion

Steven B. Feldstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


The atmospheric dynamical processes that drive intraseasonal polar motion are examined with National Centers for Environmental Prediction-National Center for Atmospheric Research reanalysis data and with pole position data from the International Earth Rotation Service. The primary methodology involves the regression of different atmospheric variables against the polar motion excitation function. A power spectral analysis of the polar motion excitation function finds a statistically significant peak at 10 days. Correlation calculations show that this peak is associated with the 10-day, first antisymmetric, zonal wavenumber 1, normal mode of the atmosphere. A coherency calculation indicates that the atmospheric driving of polar motion is mostly confined to two frequency bands, with periods of 7.5-13 and 13-90 days. Regressions of surface pressure reveal that the 7.5-13-day band corresponds to the 10-day atmospheric normal mode and the 13-90-day band to a quasi-stationary wave. The regressions of pole position and the various torques indicate not only that the equatorial bulge torque dominates the mountain and friction torques but also that the driving by the equatorial bulge torque accounts for a substantial fraction of the intraseasonal polar motion. Furthermore, although the 10-day and quasi-stationary wave contributions to the equatorial bulge torque are similar, the response in the pole position is primarily due to the quasi-stationary wave. Additional calculations of regressed power spectra and meridional heat fluxes indicate that the atmospheric wave pattern that drives polar motion is itself excited by synoptic-scale eddies. Regressions of pole position with separate torques from either hemisphere show that most of the pole displacement arises from the equatorial bulge torque from the winter hemisphere. Together with the above findings on wave-wave interactions, these results suggest that synoptic-scale eddies in the winter hemisphere excite the quasi-stationary wave, which in turn drives the polar motion through the equatorial bulge torque.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2290-2307
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of the Atmospheric Sciences
Issue number7
StatePublished - 2008

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atmospheric Science


Dive into the research topics of 'The dynamics of atmospherically driven intraseasonal polar motion'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this