A Nonequilibrium Thermodynamic Approach for Surface Energy Balance Closure

Peiyuan Li, Zhi Hua Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


The surface energy imbalance, viz. that the turbulent dissipation does not fully account for available energy, has for long been an outstanding challenge in geophysical studies. In this study, we developed a novel approach based on nonequilibrium thermodynamics by representing the atmospheric boundary layer as a heat engine. In addition, an analytically tractable approach was used to estimate the ground heat flux based on Green's function approach, which in turn determines the available energy that drives the atmospheric heat engine. The proposed model was evaluated using heat fluxes measured by eight AmeriFlux eddy covariance towers with atmospheric temperature profiles recorded at adjacent radiosonde sites. The surface energy balance closure can be improved by ~11% over various landscapes, by including the estimated power production from the atmospheric heat engine.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2019GL085835
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 16 2020


  • AmeriFlux towers
  • Green's function approach
  • atmospheric heat engine
  • nonequilibrium thermodynamics
  • surface energy balance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)


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