396 pages, 82 b/w illustrations, 13 tables
Thermodynamics sets fundamental laws for all physical processes and is central to driving and maintaining planetary dynamics. But how do Earth system processes perform work, where do they derive energy from, and what are the limits? This accessible book describes how the laws of thermodynamics apply to Earth system processes, from solar radiation to motion, geochemical cycling and biotic activity. It presents a novel view of the thermodynamic Earth system explaining how it functions and evolves, how different forms of disequilibrium are being maintained, and how evolutionary trends can be interpreted as thermodynamic trends. It also offers an original perspective on human activity, formulating this in terms of a thermodynamic, Earth system process. Thermodynamic Foundations of the Earth System uses simple conceptual models and basic mathematical treatments to illustrate the application of thermodynamics to Earth system processes, making it ideal for researchers and graduate students across a range of Earth and environmental science disciplines.
List of symbols
1. Thermodynamics and the Earth system
2. Energy and entropy
3. The first and second law of thermodynamics
4. Thermodynamic limits
5. Dynamics, structures, and maximization
8. Hydrologic cycling
9. Geochemical cycling
11. Human activity
12. The thermodynamic Earth system
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Axel Kleidon leads a research group in Biospheric Theory and Modelling at the Max-Planck-Institute for Biogeochemistry, Jena, Germany. He uses thermodynamics to quantify natural energy conversions within the Earth system and their limits, and applies this approach to understand atmosphere-biosphere interactions, Earth system responses to global change, and the natural limits of renewable energy.