Climate-driven seasonal geocenter motion during the GRACE period

Hongyue Zhang, Yu Sun

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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Annual cycles in the geocenter motion time series are primarily driven by mass changes in the Earth’s hydrologic system, which includes land hydrology, atmosphere, and oceans. Seasonal variations of the geocenter motion have been reliably determined according to Sun et al. (J Geophys Res Solid Earth 121(11):8352–8370, 2016) by combining the Gravity Recovery And Climate Experiment (GRACE) data with an ocean model output. In this study, we reconstructed the observed seasonal geocenter motion with geophysical model predictions of mass variations in the polar ice sheets, continental glaciers, terrestrial water storage (TWS), and atmosphere and dynamic ocean (AO). The reconstructed geocenter motion time series is shown to be in close agreement with the solution based on GRACE data supporting with an ocean bottom pressure model. Over 85% of the observed geocenter motion time series, variance can be explained by the reconstructed solution, which allows a further investigation of the driving mechanisms. We then demonstrated that AO component accounts for 54, 62, and 25% of the observed geocenter motion variances in the X, Y, and Z directions, respectively. The TWS component alone explains 42, 32, and 39% of the observed variances. The net mass changes over oceans together with self-attraction and loading effects also contribute significantly (about 30%) to the seasonal geocenter motion in the X and Z directions. Other contributing sources, on the other hand, have marginal (less than 10%) impact on the seasonal variations but introduce a linear trend in the time series.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)223-232
Number of pages10
JournalActa Geophysica
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 23 Mar 2018


  • Degree 1 coefficients
  • Geocenter motion
  • Mass transportation

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