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Raessler M.,Max Planck Institute For Biogeochemie
TrAC - Trends in Analytical Chemistry | Year: 2011

This article summarizes the current methods of determination of non-structural carbohydrates (NSCs) in plant samples based on liquid chromatography (LC). NSCs comprise several types of carbohydrates: sugar alcohols (e.g., sorbitol), monosaccharides (e.g., glucose and fructose), disaccharides (e.g., sucrose), oligosaccharides (e.g., raffinose) and polysaccharides [e.g., starch and polyfructans (e.g., inulin)]. NSCs are important in plant metabolism and have to be strictly distinguished from all sorts of structural carbohydrates (e.g., polysaccharide cellulose) that make up the backbone of the plants. Consequently, preservation of structural carbohydrates is a crucial step during sample preparation for NSC determination and is therefore addressed.Sugar alcohols, monosaccharides, disaccharides and those oligosaccharides that are easily soluble in polar solvents can be analyzed directly by high-performance LC. They are also referred to as free carbohydrates (FCs).However, polysaccharides are generally submitted to hydrolyzation into monomers prior to their quantitative analysis. This can be done either chemically, using acids, or enzymatically - both methods are discussed. For identification and quantification of the NSCs after LC separation, the following detectors are used: pulsed amperometry, refractive index, evaporate light scattering and finally, mass spectrometry. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd.

Kleidon A.,Max Planck Institute For Biogeochemie | Malhi Y.,University of Oxford | Cox P.M.,University of Exeter
Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences | Year: 2010

The coupled biosphere-atmosphere system entails a vast range of processes at different scales, from ecosystem exchange fluxes of energy, water and carbon to the processes that drive global biogeochemical cycles, atmospheric composition and, ultimately, the planetary energy balance. These processes are generally complex with numerous interactions and feedbacks, and they are irreversible in their nature, thereby producing entropy. The proposed principle of maximum entropy production (MEP), based on statistical mechanics and information theory, states that thermodynamic processes far from thermodynamic equilibrium will adapt to steady states at which they dissipate energy and produce entropy at the maximum possible rate. This issue focuses on the latest development of applications of MEP to the biosphere-atmosphere system including aspects of the atmospheric circulation, the role of clouds, hydrology, vegetation effects, ecosystem exchange of energy and mass, biogeochemical interactions and the Gaia hypothesis. The examples shown in this special issue demonstrate the potential of MEP to contribute to improved understanding and modelling of the biosphere and the wider Earth system, and also explore limitations and constraints to the application of the MEP principle. © 2010 The Royal Society.

Haverd V.,CSIRO | Cuntz M.,Max Planck Institute For Biogeochemie
Journal of Hydrology | Year: 2010

We present a new isotopically enabled hydrologic scheme, "Soil-Litter-Iso", suitable for use as part of an isotopically enabled land surface model. Soil-Litter-Iso is a one-dimensional model for coupled transport of heat, water and stable isotopes (HDO and H218O) in soil and litter. It is sufficiently efficient for use at regional scale, yet includes the complexity of coupled heat and water transport enabling decomposition of the total moisture flux into liquid and vapour components. The numerical implementation is based on Ross' fast solution to the Richards equation (Ross, 2003). This, combined with the explicit solution of the energy and moisture equations at the soil/air interface, permit the isotopic calculations to be performed with thick soil layers and large times steps, resulting in significantly improved computational efficiency compared with existing isotopically-enabled soil models of similar complexity. We demonstrate the model's numerical accuracy by conducting a series of established test-cases and comparing predictions of steady-state isotopic concentration profiles with corresponding analytical solutions. We also demonstrate the model's operation within a land surface model by performing simulations for the forested flux site at Tumbarumba in south-eastern Australia. These simulations show that the total evapotranspiration (ET) flux, its components and their isotopic signatures are very sensitive to the inclusion of litter, and that the model is a useful tool for assessing when the isotopic signatures of the ET components are sufficiently distinct to be useful for flux partitioning. Crown Copyright © 2010.

Kleidon A.,Max Planck Institute For Biogeochemie
Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences | Year: 2010

The present-day atmosphere is in a unique state far from thermodynamic equilibrium. This uniqueness is for instance reflected in the high concentration of molecular oxygen and the low relative humidity in the atmosphere. Given that the concentration of atmospheric oxygen has likely increased throughout Earth-system history, we can ask whether this trend can be generalized to a trend of Earth-system evolution that is directed away from thermodynamic equilibrium, why we would expect such a trend to take place and what it would imply for Earth-system evolution as a whole. The justification for such a trend could be found in the proposed general principle of maximum entropy production (MEP), which states that non-equilibrium thermodynamic systems maintain steady states at which entropy production is maximized. Here, i justify and demonstrate this application of MEP to the Earth at the planetary scale. I first describe the non-equilibrium thermodynamic nature of Earth-system processes and distinguish processes that drive the system's state away from equilibrium from those that are directed towards equilibrium. I formulate the interactions among these processes from a thermodynamic perspective and then connect them to a holistic view of the planetary thermodynamic state of the Earth system. In conclusion, non-equilibrium thermodynamics and MEP have the potential to provide a simple and holistic theory of Earth-system functioning. This theory can be used to derive overall evolutionary trends of the Earth's past, identify the role that life plays in driving thermodynamic states far from equilibrium, identify habitability in other planetary environments and evaluate human impacts on Earth-system functioning. © 2010 The Royal Society.

Kleidon A.,Max Planck Institute For Biogeochemie
Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences | Year: 2012

The Earth's chemical composition far from chemical equilibrium is unique in our Solar System, and this uniqueness has been attributed to the presence of widespread life on the planet. Here, I show how this notion can be quantified using non-equilibrium thermodynamics. Generating and maintaining disequilibrium in a thermodynamic variable requires the extraction of power from another thermodynamic gradient, and the second law of thermodynamics imposes fundamental limits on how much power can be extracted. With this approach and associated limits, I show that the ability of abiotic processes to generate geochemical free energy that can be used to transform the surface-atmosphere environment is strongly limited to less than 1TW. Photosynthetic life generates more than 200TW by performing photochemistry, thereby substantiating the notion that a geochemical composition far from equilibrium can be a sign for strong biotic activity. Present-day free energy consumption by human activity in the form of industrial activity and human appropriated net primary productivity is of the order of 50TW and therefore constitutes a considerable term in the free energy budget of the planet. When aiming to predict the future of the planet, we first note that since global changes are closely related to this consumption of free energy, and the demands for free energy by human activity are anticipated to increase substantially in the future, the central question in the context of predicting future global change is then how human free energy demands can increase sustainably without negatively impacting the ability of the Earth system to generate free energy. This question could be evaluated with climate models, and the potential deficiencies in these models to adequately represent the thermodynamics of the Earth system are discussed. Then, I illustrate the implications of this thermodynamic perspective by discussing the forms of renewable energy and planetary engineering that would enhance the overall free energy generation and, thereby 'empower' the future of the planet. © 2012 The Royal Society.

Kleidon A.,Max Planck Institute For Biogeochemie
Physics of Life Reviews | Year: 2010

Throughout Earth's history, life has increased greatly in abundance, complexity, and diversity. At the same time, it has substantially altered the Earth's environment, evolving some of its variables to states further and further away from thermodynamic equilibrium. For instance, concentrations in atmospheric oxygen have increased throughout Earth's history, resulting in an increased chemical disequilibrium in the atmosphere as well as an increased redox gradient between the atmosphere and the Earth's reducing crust. These trends seem to contradict the second law of thermodynamics, which states for isolated systems that gradients and free energy are dissipated over time, resulting in a state of thermodynamic equilibrium. This seeming contradiction is resolved by considering planet Earth as a coupled, hierarchical and evolving non-equilibrium thermodynamic system that has been substantially altered by the input of free energy generated by photosynthetic life. Here, I present this hierarchical thermodynamic theory of the Earth system. I first present simple considerations to show that thermodynamic variables are driven away from a state of thermodynamic equilibrium by the transfer of power from some other process and that the resulting state of disequilibrium reflects the past net work done on the variable. This is applied to the processes of planet Earth to characterize the generation and transfer of free energy and its dissipation, from radiative gradients to temperature and chemical potential gradients that result in chemical, kinetic, and potential free energy and associated dynamics of the climate system and geochemical cycles. The maximization of power transfer among the processes within this hierarchy yields thermodynamic efficiencies much lower than the Carnot efficiency of equilibrium thermodynamics and is closely related to the proposed principle of Maximum Entropy Production (MEP). The role of life is then discussed as a photochemical process that generates substantial amounts of chemical free energy which essentially skips the limitations and inefficiencies associated with the transfer of power within the thermodynamic hierarchy of the planet. This perspective allows us to view life as being the means to transform many aspects of planet Earth to states even further away from thermodynamic equilibrium than is possible by purely abiotic means. In this perspective pockets of low-entropy life emerge from the overall trend of the Earth system to increase the entropy of the universe at the fastest possible rate. The implications of the theory are discussed regarding fundamental deficiencies in Earth system modeling, applications of the theory to reconstructions of Earth system history, and regarding the role of human activity for the future of the planet. © 2010 Elsevier B.V.

Kleidon A.,Max Planck Institute For Biogeochemie | Renner M.,Max Planck Institute For Biogeochemie
Earth System Dynamics | Year: 2013

The global hydrologic cycle is likely to increase in strength with global warming, although some studies indicate that warming due to solar absorption may result in a different sensitivity than warming due to an elevated greenhouse effect. Here we show that these sensitivities of the hydrologic cycle can be derived analytically from an extremely simple surface energy balance model that is constrained by the assumption that vertical convective exchange within the atmosphere operates at the thermodynamic limit of maximum power. Using current climatic mean conditions, this model predicts a sensitivity of the hydrologic cycle of 2.2% K-1 to greenhouse-induced surface warming which is the sensitivity reported from climate models. The sensitivity to solar-induced warming includes an additional term, which increases the total sensitivity to 3.2% K-1. These sensitivities are explained by shifts in the turbulent fluxes in the case of greenhouse-induced warming, which is proportional to the change in slope of the saturation vapor pressure, and in terms of an additional increase in turbulent fluxes in the case of solar radiation-induced warming. We illustrate an implication of this explanation for geoengineering, which aims to undo surface temperature differences by solar radiation management. Our results show that when such an intervention compensates surface warming, it cannot simultaneously compensate the changes in hydrologic cycling because of the differences in sensitivities for solar vs. greenhouse-induced surface warming. We conclude that the sensitivity of the hydrologic cycle to surface temperature can be understood and predicted with very simple physical considerations but this needs to reflect on the different roles that solar and terrestrial radiation play in forcing the hydrologic cycle.©Author(s) 2013. CC Attribution 3.0 License.

Kleidon A.,Max Planck Institute For Biogeochemie | Renner M.,Max Planck Institute For Biogeochemie
Hydrology and Earth System Sciences | Year: 2013

The hydrologic cycle results from the combination of energy conversions and atmospheric transport, and the laws of thermodynamics set limits to both. Here, we apply thermodynamics to derive the limits of the strength of hydrologic cycling within the Earth system and about the properties and processes that shape these limits. We set up simple models to derive analytical expressions of the limits of evaporation and precipitation in relation to vertical and horizontal differences in solar radiative forcing. These limits result from a fundamental trade-off by which a greater evaporation rate reduces the temperature gradient and thus the driver for atmospheric motion that exchanges moistened air from the surface with the drier air aloft. The limits on hydrologic cycling thus reflect the strong interaction between the hydrologic flux, motion, and the driving gradient. Despite the simplicity of the models, they yield estimates for the limits of hydrologic cycling that are within the observed magnitude, suggesting that the global hydrologic cycle operates near its maximum strength. We close with a discussion of how thermodynamic limits can provide a better characterization of the interaction of vegetation and human activity with hydrologic cycling. © Author(s) 2013.

Steinhof A.,Max Planck Institute For Biogeochemie
Radiocarbon | Year: 2013

The Jena Analysis Code (JAC) was developed at the Jena radiocarbon laboratory for the analysis of all 14C accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) data measured there. The fundamental principles and algorithms of JAC are presented here, along with the equally important checking procedures. JAC places emphasis on the uncertainty due to background subtraction and other contributions to the statistical uncertainty of 14C events. © 2013 by the Arizona Board of Regents on behalf of the University of Arizona.

Kleidon A.,Max Planck Institute For Biogeochemie
Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences | Year: 2010

The Earth system is remarkably different from its planetary neighbours in that it shows pronounced, strong global cycling of matter. These global cycles result in the maintenance of a unique thermodynamic state of the Earth's atmosphere which is far from thermodynamic equilibrium (TE). Here, I provide a simple introduction of the thermodynamic basis to understand why Earth system processes operate so far away from TE. I use a simple toy model to illustrate the application of non-equilibrium thermodynamics and to classify applications of the proposed principle of maximum entropy production (MEP) to such processes into three different cases of contrasting flexibility in the boundary conditions. I then provide a brief overview of the different processes within the Earth system that produce entropy, review actual examples of MEP in environmental and ecological systems, and discuss the role of interactions among dissipative processes in making boundary conditions more flexible. I close with a brief summary and conclusion. © 2010 The Royal Society.

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