A physical basis for a maximum of thermodynamic dissipation of the climate system



A mechanism is proposed by which the energy flow through a turbulent medium might be constrained to maximize its dissipation or (equivalently) its thermodynamic efficiency. The mechanism may provide a physical basis for the various findings over the years that the earth-atmosphere system has adopted a format which maximizes its overall rate of entropy production. The qualitative picture is of a system which, because of the asymmetry of its turbulent fluctuations about the locus of possible steady states determined by energy balance, moves to a preferred steady state and therefore to a preferred turbulent transfer coefficient.