The Australian continent tilts and shifts in a coherent gyrating motion as a result of seasonal weather patterns across the globe, a world-first discovery from the University of Newcastle (UON) has shown.
Professor Shin-Chan Han is a geodesist with NASA and academic in UON’s School of Engineering.
He has used a combination of GPS data along with data from the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellites, both of which measure ground deformation, to discover a ‘seasonal gyration’.
“The new research shows Australia sinks and rises between 3mm and 5mm in response to the mass change across the globe, as well as shifting northwest 1mm during the southern hemisphere’s summer and moving back during the winter,” Professor Han said.
“It’s an exciting development in that we now know we can use these forms of surveillance to track the slightest of movements, which are vital in the long-term planning for our response to climate change.”
Seasonal mass change is influenced by many factors, including atmospheric pressure, ocean mass, ground water storage and the ice/snow cycle.
When the southern hemisphere is experiencing summer, there is more mass in Europe owing to increased rainfall, snow and water distribution.
When the season changes and there is a shift in mass as a result of evaporation, Australia responds by tilting toward the heavier area.
“This tilt, combined with the natural continental drift the country experiences throughout the year, results in an elliptical movement or ‘gyration’,” Professor Han said.
You can read more about this study here. Story credit: University of Newcastle newsroom
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