Thermal Effects of Tidal Friction

  • William M. Kaula


Energy is dissipated in the Earth-Moon system at the. rate of 2.7 × 1019 ergs/sec. We here consider the friction in the solid parts of the Earth and the Moon, first as a sink for tidal energy and secondly as a possible significant geophysical source of thermal energy. As a tidal sink this friction may account for that part of the energy dissipation which is not accounted for by the friction in the shallow seas. As a source of thermal energy, considerations of the work done by the Moon in varying its distance from the Earth give a limitation of roughly 8 × 1016 Q −1 ergs/sec on the amount of energy available. The specific dissipation function Q −1 is defined by Munk and MacDonald (1960, Sec. 4.3):
$$\frac{1}{Q}~=~\frac{1}{2\pi E}~\oint{\frac{dE}{dt}}~dt$$
where E is the peak energy stored in the system. This function is a dimensionless measure of the rate at which energy is dissipated in a vibrating system, and it does not depend on the detailed mechanisms of the dissipative process.


Energy Dissipation Thermal Effect Tidal Effect Tidal Energy Deviatoric Strain 
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© Plenum Press 1966

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  • William M. Kaula

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