Articles | Volume 2, issue 1
Research article
23 Feb 2011
Research article |  | 23 Feb 2011

Entropy production and multiple equilibria: the case of the ice-albedo feedback

C. Herbert, D. Paillard, and B. Dubrulle

Abstract. Nonlinear feedbacks in the Earth System provide mechanisms that can prove very useful in understanding complex dynamics with relatively simple concepts. For example, the temperature and the ice cover of the planet are linked in a positive feedback which gives birth to multiple equilibria for some values of the solar constant: fully ice-covered Earth, ice-free Earth and an intermediate unstable solution. In this study, we show an analogy between a classical dynamical system approach to this problem and a Maximum Entropy Production (MEP) principle view, and we suggest a glimpse on how to reconcile MEP with the time evolution of a variable. It enables us in particular to resolve the question of the stability of the entropy production maxima. We also compare the surface heat flux obtained with MEP and with the bulk-aerodynamic formula.

Final-revised paper