Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Tracking Earth's Wobbles Down to the Size of a Cell Phone

26.06.2006
New technologies are enabling scientists to determine precisely the extent and causes of Earth's short-term wobbling. Like a spinning top, Earth wobbles as it rotates on its axis. In fact, it displays many different wobbling motions, ranging in period from a few minutes to billions of years. Some of these are well studied, like the Chandler wobble of 433 days and the annual wobble, which together can tilt Earth's axis up to 10 meters [30 feet] from its nominal center.

Earth's irregular, shorter term wobbles, lasting a week or so, have been more difficult to study, partly because these motions are usually masked by those of more prominent wobbles. Now, scientists in Belgium and France have taken advantage of a quirk in the pattern of large-scale motions and the advent of the Global Positioning System (GPS) to pin down short-term wobbles that occurred from November 2005 through February 2006.


Motion of the North Pole, as determined by the IERS. Earth Orientation Parameter Center of the Paris Observatory, for the study period, 1 November 2005 to 14 February 2006. Each marker represents the position of the pole on one day. Five loops are identified. Never before have these small polar movements been traced with such precision.

During this period, the Chandler wobble and the annual wobble essentially cancelled each other out, an event that occurs every 6.4 years, allowing the researchers to focus on the short-period wobbles. Over these three and a half months, the pole position traced small loops, ranging in size from that of a sheet of A4 [8-1/2x11 inch] paper down to that of a cell phone, and it remained within a one meter [yard] square during these four months.

Sebastien Lambert of the Royal Observatory of Belgium and colleagues there and at the Paris Observatory took advantage of the opportunity to track short-term wobbles, using newly available GPS data that establish the location of the poles precisely. They then sought to determine why these motions occurred when they did.

In a paper scheduled to be published 1 July in Geophysical Research Letters, they conclude that weather patterns in the northern hemisphere played a significant role. Both the location of high- or low-pressure centers--for example, over Asia or northern Europe--and the relationship of these weather systems to each other played a measurable role in creating, or "exciting," small, short-term wobbles, they report.

The ocean also affects short-term wobbles, according to Lambert and his colleagues. They were able to correlate oceanic and atmospheric pressure variations with the small observed wobbles during the study period. Although these forces had been credited by previous researchers with maintaining the large Chandler wobble, this was the first time that scientists have been able to demonstrate that day-to-day changes in atmospheric pressure produce a measurable effect on Earth's rotation.

The study was funded by the Belgian Science Policy Office, the Royal Observatory of Belgium, and the Paris Observatory.

Harvey Leifert | American Geophysical Union
Further information:
http://www.agu.org

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht A promising target in the quest for a 1-million-year-old Antarctic ice core
24.05.2018 | University of Washington

nachricht Tropical Peat Swamps: Restoration of Endangered Carbon Reservoirs
24.05.2018 | Leibniz-Zentrum für Marine Tropenforschung (ZMT)

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Molecular switch will facilitate the development of pioneering electro-optical devices

A research team led by physicists at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has developed molecular nanoswitches that can be toggled between two structurally different states using an applied voltage. They can serve as the basis for a pioneering class of devices that could replace silicon-based components with organic molecules.

The development of new electronic technologies drives the incessant reduction of functional component sizes. In the context of an international collaborative...

Im Focus: LZH showcases laser material processing of tomorrow at the LASYS 2018

At the LASYS 2018, from June 5th to 7th, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) will be showcasing processes for the laser material processing of tomorrow in hall 4 at stand 4E75. With blown bomb shells the LZH will present first results of a research project on civil security.

At this year's LASYS, the LZH will exhibit light-based processes such as cutting, welding, ablation and structuring as well as additive manufacturing for...

Im Focus: Self-illuminating pixels for a new display generation

There are videos on the internet that can make one marvel at technology. For example, a smartphone is casually bent around the arm or a thin-film display is rolled in all directions and with almost every diameter. From the user's point of view, this looks fantastic. From a professional point of view, however, the question arises: Is that already possible?

At Display Week 2018, scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP will be demonstrating today’s technological possibilities and...

Im Focus: Explanation for puzzling quantum oscillations has been found

So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics

Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...

Im Focus: Dozens of binaries from Milky Way's globular clusters could be detectable by LISA

Next-generation gravitational wave detector in space will complement LIGO on Earth

The historic first detection of gravitational waves from colliding black holes far outside our galaxy opened a new window to understanding the universe. A...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Save the date: Forum European Neuroscience – 07-11 July 2018 in Berlin, Germany

02.05.2018 | Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

Unique scope of UV LED technologies and applications presented in Berlin: ICULTA-2018

12.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

When corals eat plastics

24.05.2018 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation

Surgery involving ultrasound energy found to treat high blood pressure

24.05.2018 | Medical Engineering

First chip-scale broadband optical system that can sense molecules in the mid-IR

24.05.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>