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Non-linearity of geocentre motion and its impact on the origin of the terrestrial reference frame

TitleNon-linearity of geocentre motion and its impact on the origin of the terrestrial reference frame
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2014
AuthorsDong D.N, Qu W.J, Fang P., Peng D.J
JournalGeophysical Journal International
Date Published2014/08
Type of ArticleArticle
ISBN Number0956-540X
Accession NumberWOS:000339717700028
Keywordschange from geodesy; definition; earths oblateness; geodesy; global; greenland; ice-sheet; mass-balance; model; ocean; Reference systems; Satellite geodesy; sea-level rise; space; surface; Time-series analysis

The terrestrial reference frame is a cornerstone for modern geodesy and its applications for a wide range of Earth sciences. The underlying assumption for establishing a terrestrial reference frame is that the motion of the solid Earth's figure centre relative to the mass centre of the Earth system on a multidecadal timescale is linear. However, past international terrestrial reference frames (ITRFs) showed unexpected accelerated motion in their translation parameters. Based on this underlying assumption, the inconsistency of relative origin motions of the ITRFs has been attributed to data reduction imperfection. We investigated the impact of surface mass loading from atmosphere, ocean, snow, soil moisture, ice sheet, glacier and sea level from 1983 to 2008 on the geocentre variations. The resultant geocentre time-series display notable trend acceleration from 1998 onward, in particular in the z-component. This effect is primarily driven by the hydrological mass redistribution in the continents (soil moisture, snow, ice sheet and glacier). The acceleration is statistically significant at the 99 per cent confidence level as determined using the Mann-Kendall test, and it is highly correlated with the satellite laser ranging determined translation series. Our study, based on independent geophysical and hydrological models, demonstrates that, in addition to systematic errors from analysis procedures, the observed non-linearity of the Earth-system behaviour at interannual timescales is physically driven and is able to explain 42 per cent of the disparity between the origins of ITRF2000 and ITRF2005, as well as the high level of consistency between the ITRF2005 and ITRF2008 origins.

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