Lorenz's theory of available potential energy (APE) remains the main framework for studying the atmospheric and oceanic energy cycles. Because the APE generation rate is the volume integral of a thermodynamic efficiency times the local diabatic heating/cooling rate, APE theory is often regarded as an extension of the theory of heat engines. Available energetics in classical thermodynamics, however, usually relies on the concept of exergy and is usually measured relative to a reference-state maximizing entropy at constant energy, whereas APE's reference state minimizes potential energy at constant entropy. This review seeks to shed light on the two concepts; it covers local formulations of available energetics, alternative views of the dynamics/thermodynamics coupling, APE theory and the second law of thermodynamics, APE production/dissipation, extensions to binary fluids, mean/eddy decompositions, APE in incompressible fluids, APE and irreversible turbulent mixing, and the role of mechanical forcing on APE production.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


Data & Media loading...

  • Article Type: Review Article
This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was a Success
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error