GRACE era secular trends in Earth rotation parameters: A global scale impact of the global warming process?
Recent trends in the two primary anomalies in the rotational state of the planet are analyzed in detail, namely those associated with the speed and direction of polar wander and with the non-tidal acceleration of the rate of axial rotation (via the measurement of the changing oblateness of the Earth\textquoterights shape). It is demonstrated that a significant change in the secular trends in both of these independent parameters became evident subsequent to approximately 1992. It is suggested that both parameters might have come to be substantially influenced by mass loss from both the great polar ice sheets, and from the very large number of small ice-sheets and glaciers that are also being influenced by the global warming phenomenon. The modern values for the secular drifts in those parameters that we estimate are appropriate to the period during which measurements have been made by the satellites of the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE). These changes in secular rates might greatly assist in understanding why the GRACE-inferred values of the time derivatives of the degree two and order one Stokes coefficients differ so significantly from those associated with Late Quaternary ice-age influence.
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Geophysical Research Letters