Thermodynamics and Optimality of the Earth system
September 19-21, 2022
Sala Strozzi (Paleontology Museum), DST UNIFI Via Giorgio La Pira 4, Firenze
Prof. Axel Kleidon
Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, Jena (D)
Water flows downhill, mountains erode, and wood burns into ashes. If nothing else happened, sooner or later, water would collect in the world’s oceans, mountains would be eroded down to the seafloor, and wood would decompose to its raw ingredients. The outcome would constitute a “dead” state of the Earth system, without atmospheric dynamics, hydrologic and biogeochemical cycling, and it would be unable to sustain life. The present Earth is nowhere near such a “dead” state, and thermodynamics provides the key answer to understand why the Earth is not in such a “dead” state and how processes perform work to keep the Earth in an active state.