Topographic Forcing of the Atmosphere and a Rapid Change in the Length of Day

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Science  15 Apr 1994:
Vol. 264, Issue 5157, pp. 407-409
DOI: 10.1126/science.264.5157.407


During June to September 1992, a special campaign was held to measure rapid changes in Earth's rotation rate and to relate these measurements to variations in the atmosphere's angular momentum, due principally to changes in zonal winds. A strong rise in both length of day and atmospheric momentum during a particular 6-day subperiod is documented, and this example of a short-period perturbation is identified with a specific regional coupling mechanism. Mountain torques within the southern tropics appear to account for most of the rapid momentum transfer between the solid Earth and atmosphere, with those across South America especially important.