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Thermodynamic Foundations of the Earth System


  • Author: Axel Kleidon, Max-Planck-Institut für Biogeochemie, Jena
  • Date Published: March 2016
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781107029941

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About the Authors
  • 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. This book 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.

    • Formulates a thermodynamic approach of the whole Earth system ranging from the planetary radiative forcing to human activity, allowing readers to obtain a physical view of the Earth system and understand how processes follow the second law of thermodynamics
    • Keeps the mathematical treatment simple and accessible so that it will appeal to readers from a range of backgrounds in the Earth and environmental sciences
    • Describes thermodynamic limits and how these apply to Earth system processes, providing a means to quantify the magnitude of Earth system processes from first principles
    • Evaluates several hypotheses related to life and thermodynamics of the Earth system
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'Examines what goes on in the Earth's atmosphere, oceans, geosphere and biosphere from the perspective of energy and entropy flows. Kleidon draws on a wide range of research to help clarify in quantitative detail how thermodynamics shapes the entire Earth system, and, in particular, how humanity has come to play a central role in the Earth's physics … This important book fills a crucial gap by drawing out the implications of the second law of thermodynamics for the whole Earth system.' Mark Buchanan, Nature Physics

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    Product details

    • Date Published: March 2016
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781107029941
    • length: 396 pages
    • dimensions: 261 x 185 x 25 mm
    • weight: 0.93kg
    • contains: 82 b/w illus. 13 tables
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    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
    6. Radiation
    7. Motion
    8. Hydrologic cycling
    9. Geochemical cycling
    10. Land
    11. Human activity
    12. The thermodynamic Earth system

  • Author

    Axel Kleidon, Max-Planck-Institut für Biogeochemie, Jena
    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.

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