In animate thermodynamics, limnological thermodynamics is the study and modeling of limnic processes and limnic systems, i.e. systems and processes in fresh water aquatic environments, at the limnological scale of 0.01 to 100 meters in size to 0.003 to 100 days in process time, based on thermodynamics. [1] In his 1998 Physical Processes in Lakes and Oceans, Australian water environmental engineer Jorg Imberger gives his summary of thermodynamics in limnology: [2]

Thermodynamics gives explanation not only to the limitations and performances of many biological phenomena at the organism level, but also at the ecosystem level, and also points to the forces structuring the biological world and offers methods useful in biological limnology.”

Some of the first work in this field was done by German hydro-physicist Peter Mauersberger, beginning in the 1980s. [3]

Ecological thermodynamics
Often is the case that ‘limnic-system scale’ models are scaled up to explain behaviors and develop theory in the ‘ecosystem scale’ (≥ 100 m, > 10 days) in the formulation of testable ecological thermodynamics theories.

Molecule-centric view
Interestingly, the molecule-centric view of organisms as “single abstract molecules”, that react with each other in the form of complex larger scale chemical reactions, with a measureable stoichiometry, is a common modelling scheme used in limnology, and in which resulted in the first-ever know calculation of the molecular formula for the human molecule, by American limnologists Robert Sterner and James Elser, published in 2002. [3]

1. Mauersberger, Peter. (1996). “From a Theory of Local Processes in Aquatic Ecosystems to a Theory at the Ecosystem Scale”, The Science of the Total Environment, 183: 99-106.
2. Imberger, Jorg. (1998). Physical Processes in Lakes and Oceans (pg. 624). American Geophysical Union.
3. (a) Mauersberger, Peter. (1982). Irreversibility in Hydrology (Irreversibilität in der Hydrologie). Berlin.
(b) Mauersberger, Peter. (1985). “Local Entropy Production in Aquatic Ecosystems”, Acta Hydrophysica, 24(4): 235-58.
(c) Mauersberger, Peter. (1987). “Deterministic and Stochastic Phases in the Time Evolution of Water Resources”, Acta Hydrophysica, 31(3/4): 165-72.
(d) Mauersberger, Peter. (1991). “The Role of Fundamental Laws of Physics, Chemistry, and Biology in Limnological Research”, Acta Hydrophysica, 35(1): 21-31.
3. Sterner, Robert W. and Elser, James J. (2002). Ecological Stoichiometry: the Biology of Elements from Molecules to the Biosphere, (chapter one), (pgs. 2-3, 47, 135). Princeton: Princeton University Press.

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