Chapter 1 provides a general description of the basic concepts of thermodynamics as well as their prominent application to the thermodynamics of the Earth system in the literature. The main elements for a thermodynamic formulation of the Earth system is given, in which the thermodynamic Carnot limit of a heat engine is linked to structure formation and interactions within systems. The chapter closes with a schematic diagram, in which the major forms of energy are shown as well as the main processes that convert these energies and how the resulting dynamics alters and interacts with energy conversions. This schematic diagram serves as the red thread for the whole book.
The following shows the color versions of the figures of Chapter 1 as well as their caption. A click on the figure provides a link to the respective PDF version of the figure.
Figure 1.1: Two different types of systems (A: an “isolated” system; B: a “non- isolated” system) develop from an initial state to a final, steady state. An everyday example for such systems are given on the right.
Figure 1.2 (a.) A living cell and (b.) the whole Earth system as examples of dis- sipative systems that are maintained far from thermodynamic equilibrium by the exchange of entropy. Source of Earth image: NASA.
Figure 1.3 (a.) Illustration of a heat engine using Watt’s original steam engine as a template. Only a fraction of the heat flux into the engine can be converted to mechanical power because of the condition imposed by the second law. (b.) An illustration of the surface-atmosphere system in which a heat engine generates motion from radiative heating of the surface and the cooling of the atmosphere. Steam engine image from Meyer (1886), available on http://www.wikipedia.org.
Figure 1.4 Examples of structures that illustrate non-uniform distribution of gra- dients and flows: (a.) a section of the Grand Canyon; (b.) a spring at a Danish beach; (c.) branches of an oak tree. Sources; (a) terraprints.com/NASA; (b) and (c) the author.
Figure 1.5 A planetary view of the thermodynamic Earth system, with its cas- cades of energy conversions (left, solid lines), its effects (right, dashed lines), and associated forms of energy shown on the right. The description of this planetary view and the quantification of thermodynamic limits of the conversion rates are the main objectives of this book. Modified from Kleidon (2010, 2012).
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