14 Biotic Entropy Production and Global Atmosphere-Biosphere Interactions

  • Axel Kleidon
  • Klaus Fraedrich
Part of the Understanding Complex Systems book series (UCS)


Atmospheric conditions constrain biotic activity through incoming solar radiation, temperature, and soil water availability on land. At the same time atmospheric composition and the partitioning of energy fluxes at the surface are strongly affected by biotic activity, thereby modifying the environmental constraints. Here we review the foundations for atmosphere-biosphere interactions, focusing on the role of biogeophysical effects of terrestrial vegetation and the emergent feedbacks of the coupled atmosphere-biosphere system. We then investigate atmosphere-biosphere interactions from a perspective of entropy production and discuss the applicability of the hypothesis of Maximum Entropy Production (MEP) to biotic activity as a dissipative process within the Earth system. Specifically, we suggest two examples demonstrating the existence of MEP states associated with biotic activity and the Earth’s planetary albedo. We close with a discussion of how this research can be extended and what the implications of biotic MEP states would be for understanding the dynamics of the Earth system.


Entropy Production Surface Albedo Terrestrial Vegetation Incoming Solar Radiation Biotic Activity 
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Authors and Affiliations

  • Axel Kleidon
    • 1
  • Klaus Fraedrich
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Geography and Earth System Science Interdisciplinary Center, 2181 Lefrak Hall, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742USA
  2. 2.Meteorologisches Institut, Universität Hamburg, Bundesstraße 55, 20146 HamburgGermany

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