1 Entropy Production by Earth System Processes

  • Axel Kleidon
  • Ralph Lorenz
Part of the Understanding Complex Systems book series (UCS)


Degradation of energy to lower temperatures and the associated production of entropy is a general direction for Earth system processes, ranging from the planetary energy balance, to the global hydrological cycle and the cycling of carbon by Earth’s biosphere. This chapter introduces the application of nonequilibrium thermodynamics to the planetary energy balance of Earth and its neighboring planets. The principles of minimum and maximum entropy production are introduced in the context of Earth system processes. Their applicability to the dynamics of the complex Earth system, such as atmospheric turbulence and the global biotic activity, is outlined. This chapter closes with an overview of the structure of the book and how the chapters relate to the overall theme of non-equilibrium thermodynamics.


Heat Transport Entropy Production Entropy Generation Rate Energy Balance Model Biotic Activity 
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Authors and Affiliations

  • Axel Kleidon
    • 1
  • Ralph Lorenz
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Geography and Earth System Science Interdisciplinary Center, 2181 Lefrak Hall, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742USA
  2. 2.Lunar and Planetary Lab, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721USA

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