Thermodynamics and Climate

  • Alan J. Sangster


The earth’s biosphere represents arguably the ultimate in complex systems, but as this chapter demonstrates it is nonetheless amenable to examination by non-equilibrium thermodynamics. The basics of climate science are now well founded as is demonstrated here, and the evidence for anthropogenic global warming is no longer refutable. However, that disputes as to the source and nature of climate change continue to exist is undeniable, and it is shown here that these arguments can largely be attributed to the statistical form of the historical record. This record attempts to quantify the way in which the significant parameters influencing the climate have varied over thousands, if not millions, of years into the ancient past. Some of the proxy methods used to form it, such as tree-rings and ice cores are revisited in order to explain the statistical problem, and thereby provide an interpretation of the difficulties which can arise. Nevertheless the evidence that the ecosystem is no longer thermodynamically balanced is real and growing daily.


Global Warming Black Body Glass Pane Hockey Stick Anthropogenic Warming 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London Limited  2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Engineering and Physical ScienceHeriot-Watt UniversityEdinburghUK

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