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I Do laws of thermodynamics really apply to ecosystems?

  1. Feb 18, 2017 #1
    From Odum (Father of modern ecology)

    Ecosystem follows the laws of termodynamics
    1st law
    2nd law
    The way the laws have been put it looks alright but they are valid for closed systems only which ecosystems are not.

    However according to wikipedia apart from having a closed system there are several other factors to consider:
    1. 1st law
    2. 2nd law

    Note: I have fundamental idea about thermodynamics having read physics upto class XII level. My understanding about the validity of these laws in ecosystems isn't getting any better.
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 18, 2017 #2


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    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    I am not 100% sure what your question is. If it's simply "do the laws of thermodynamics apply to ecosystems" then the answer is still yes. Those laws are universal. If you have a more specific idea there then I guess I am having a hard time figuring out exactly what sort of situation needs clarification here.
  4. Feb 18, 2017 #3
    Well the thing is ecosystems are open systems and I believe laws of thermodynamics are valid for closed systems only.
  5. Feb 18, 2017 #4


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    Staff: Mentor

    Draw a big enough circle and an open system becomes a closed system.

    Or, take your open system (aka a control volume) and keep track of all goesintos and goesoutofs and you can still apply those laws.
  6. Feb 18, 2017 #5
    All ecosystems on Earth, the only ones we know about, require energy in some form, and dispose of 'used' energy mainly as heat.
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