“Erneuerbare Energien – einfach nachgerechnet” – unser Beitrag zum MINT Festival der @UniJena am Donnerstag.  Hier gibt’s weitere Infos und Links. #moMINTmal21 @MPI_BGC

Wieviel erneuerbare Energie gibt es eigentlich? Reicht sie für die Energiewende in Deutschland?  Die Antworten liefern einfache, physikalisch-basierte Abschätzungen, bei der das Erdsystem im Mittelpunkt steht sowie die Umwandlungen von der Energie im Sonnenlicht in andere Formen. Und dabei steht etwas Physik, genauer gesagt, die Thermodynamik im Mittelpunkt. Das Ergebnis ist nicht ganz so, wie man es vielleicht erwarten würde. Nämlich, dass es zwar jede Menge erneuerbare Energie gibt, aber auch, dass die Nutzung der Solarenergie mit großem Abstand auf Platz 1 liegt, und nicht die Windenergie. Selbst im nicht ganz so sonnigen, aber oft windigen Deutschland. 

Continue reading ““Erneuerbare Energien – einfach nachgerechnet” – unser Beitrag zum MINT Festival der @UniJena am Donnerstag.  Hier gibt’s weitere Infos und Links. #moMINTmal21 @MPI_BGC”

#vEMS21: Our updates on using #thermodynamics for land-atmosphere interactions, the precipitation response to #globalwarming, and the #windenergy potential in the German bight

With summer coming to a close, we are back to present new insights from ongoing research in extreme precipitation events, offshore wind energy and thermodynamics at the European Meteorological Society Annual Meeting 2021. The event, which will be held online next week (6 – 10 September 2021), focuses on weather and climate research and services for the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Read on to find out more details about when and what each of us will be presenting.

Continue reading “#vEMS21: Our updates on using #thermodynamics for land-atmosphere interactions, the precipitation response to #globalwarming, and the #windenergy potential in the German bight”

#goldschmidt2021 We contribute our work on dissipative dynamics and frequency distributions in river geochemistry and an update on the thermodynamics of planetary evolution.

Our work on thermodynamics and the Goldschmidt conference on geochemistry – well, that seems like an obvious match. But what we contribute is a little different, and the match is not quite so straightforward. What our perspective adds is (a) a focus on non-equilibrium thermodynamics and disequilibrium, and the processes that generate and dissipate this disequilibrium, and (b) a system‘s view which accounts for the environmental setting as well as the interactions and feedbacks within the Earth as an overarching thermodynamic system. Both of our contributions next week nicely illustrate these points and show how important it is to think „thermodynamics“ beyond its more narrow application to geochemical reactions.

Continue reading “#goldschmidt2021 We contribute our work on dissipative dynamics and frequency distributions in river geochemistry and an update on the thermodynamics of planetary evolution.”

#vEGU21 Next week we’ll present our work on precipitation scaling, diurnal temperature range, offshore wind, and limits to vegetation productivity based on our thermodynamic Earth system view

Thermodynamics rules the world, as well as the science that we present at this year’s EGU General Assembly, which is, alas, virtual rather than in Vienna. It may not be obvious, and our contributions are spread across different sessions. But in the end, we follow the solar energy as it passes through the Earth system, seeking simple, physics-based explanations to simple phenomena: precipitation scaling with temperature found in observations, the diurnal temperature range across regions and vegetation types, also in observations, limits to offshore wind energy in the North sea and what these imply for renewable energy scenarios, and how the really low efficiency of photosynthesis fits to the notion of vegetation being optimal.

Continue reading “#vEGU21 Next week we’ll present our work on precipitation scaling, diurnal temperature range, offshore wind, and limits to vegetation productivity based on our thermodynamic Earth system view”

Why does wind energy become less efficient when used at larger scales? Basic physics explains this effect, starting with a very limited ability of the atmosphere to generate wind energy from radiation, as described in my new review just published.

Wind energy plays an important role in the transition to a carbon-neutral, sustainable energy system and is rapidly expanding. So it is a good time to ask how much wind energy there actually is, whether we get close to the limits anytime soon, and why the efficiency of wind energy must decline when used at larger scales. These are basic science questions: How, and why, does the atmosphere actually generate motion, how much does it generate, and how much of it can at most be used? These questions I address in a review paper just published in which I show that it does not take much physics to answer these.

Continue reading “Why does wind energy become less efficient when used at larger scales? Basic physics explains this effect, starting with a very limited ability of the atmosphere to generate wind energy from radiation, as described in my new review just published.”

Which factors make forests cooler: Evaporation or their high aerodynamic conductance? Our paper just published in HESS suggests that it is the latter.

Trees and plants moderate the Earth’s surface temperature. Generally, the cooling effect of vegetation is mainly attributed to the process of evapotranspiration. In our paper just published in HESS, we used observations to unravel the importance of evaporative cooling for short vegetation and forest in shaping diurnal variations in temperatures and found that, actually, it is not only evaporation that keeps the forests cool.

Continue reading “Which factors make forests cooler: Evaporation or their high aerodynamic conductance? Our paper just published in HESS suggests that it is the latter.”

More wind turbines should lead to less wind and less efficient wind turbines, but how to account for this? We showed that our simple spreadsheet KEBA model is about as good as complex WRF simulations to describe this effect.

Wind energy has seen a tremendous increase over the last decades, a trend that is likely to continue into the future with the transition towards a sustainable energy system. Yet, each wind turbine removes energy from the atmosphere, so the more wind turbines there are within a region, the more wind speeds should decline, making each turbine less efficient. This effect has clearly been shown by atmospheric simulation models (e.g., in our previous work), but this effect has typically not been accounted for in regional to continental wind energy resource estimates and energy scenarios for the future. The effect sounds complicated, so what should be done?

Continue reading “More wind turbines should lead to less wind and less efficient wind turbines, but how to account for this? We showed that our simple spreadsheet KEBA model is about as good as complex WRF simulations to describe this effect.”

Solar radiation is the main cause for diurnal variations on land. Looking at this slightly differently than how it is normally done helps to better understand observations and evaluate models of the land surface

My former postdoc, Maik Renner, just got his paper published in the Journal of Hydrometeorology, in which he evaluated the performance of common land surface models at the diurnal time scale using FluxNet observations. The evaluation was based on a simple concept that we developed in my group: that solar radiation is the main driver of the diurnal variation of variables that characterize the land-atmosphere system. This sounds trivial. Of course solar radiation is the dominant driver, so what novel insights can be gained from this view? Continue reading “Solar radiation is the main cause for diurnal variations on land. Looking at this slightly differently than how it is normally done helps to better understand observations and evaluate models of the land surface”

Does thermodynamics limit photosynthesis? It probably does, but not as you may think

Fig Leaf picturePhotosynthesis is the process which powers life on Earth.  It takes the energy contained in sunlight, uses carbon dioxide, and generates chemical energy that is stored in form of sugars and similar compounds that fuel the activity of the biosphere, including us humans.  And just as any other Earth system process, in doing so it follows the laws of thermodynamics.  But does thermodynamics also restrict the efficiency by which photosynthesis can use sunlight? 

Continue reading “Does thermodynamics limit photosynthesis? It probably does, but not as you may think”

Are you looking for a stimulating Postdoc opportunity? Our group has a position open, applying thermodynamics and optimality to Earth system science.

I have an opening for a Postdoc position available in my group that is rather flexible and provides a lot of freedom because it is unattached to any research project (it is the succession of my co-worker Maik Renner, who advanced to a permanent position elsewhere).  I would like the research to broadly focus on advancing the application of thermodynamics and optimality principles to Earth system science, but the concrete topic is up to you.  So if you are curious to learn more about thermodynamics and how to apply it, I’d like you to think about a topic and apply!  The formal details are provided on our homepage here. Continue reading “Are you looking for a stimulating Postdoc opportunity? Our group has a position open, applying thermodynamics and optimality to Earth system science.”