Climate as a heat engine


Watts Up With That?

Guest essay by Jan Kjetil Andersen

As Willis describes in his article on December 21, the atmosphere can be seen as a gigantic heat engine, i.e. a machine which convert thermal energy, namely temperature, into mechanical energy, namely wind.

It may seem a bit strange to view the weather system as a kind of machine and compare it with engineered constructs like an automobile engine, but it is sound physics because all such systems are bound by the same fundamental physical laws and they utilizes the same basic phenomena to create movement from heat.

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