Environmental Fluid Dynamics: A Brief Introduction

Authored by: Harindra Joseph , Shermal Fernando

Handbook of Environmental Fluid Dynamics

Print publication date:  December  2012
Online publication date:  December  2012

Print ISBN: 9781439816691
eBook ISBN: 9781439816707
Adobe ISBN:

10.1201/b14241-3

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Abstract

The planet Earth is just one of the 1022 planets in the universe, yet it is singularly unique, as it is the only planet known to maintain the precise conditions to sustain life. First, the earth is covered by an atmosphere, which is held in place by sufficiently large gravitational attraction due to its large mass (6 × 1024 kg) and radius (average 6371 km). Second, the atmosphere contains essential gases such as oxygen (∼21% by volume), nitrogen (∼78%), and carbon dioxide (∼0.03%), in requisite amounts for breathing, biogeochemical cycling, and for maintaining a narrow temperature range conducive for life. Third, the average distance from the earth to the sun (1.49 × 1011 m) is such that the temperatures on the earth are neither extremely hot nor cold so that the water can be in liquid state, and the nearly circular (variation <3.5%) orbit of the earth around the sun ensures smaller seasonal temperature swings. Fourth, the rate of rotation and thermal and gravitational forcing of the earth are just right for the atmosphere, oceans, and the earth’s interior to be in a quasi stable or an equilibrium state. This state of the planet, known as the climate, prima facie is in a delicate balance dictated by the ultimate forces of universe.

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