Table 1.

Earth-system processes and their characterization in terms of properties reflecting a state away from thermodynamic equilibrium, and those processes that drive the state towards or away from thermodynamic equilibrium.

processproperty reflecting disequilibriumprocesses towards equilibriumprocesses that drive disequilibrium
electric circuitcharge in capacitorsdissipation in resistorselectromotive forces associated with generators
radiative exchangetemperature difference to radiative equilibrium temperatureemission of radiationabsorption of radiation emitted at a higher temperature
large-scale motionkinetic energyfrictional dissipationgradients in pressure and density
tidal dissipationgravitational pull from the Moon and Sun
hydrologic cyclingdistance of atmospheric water vapour content to saturationevaporation brings unsaturated air closer to saturationprecipitation removes moisture from the atmosphere
condensation brings supersaturated air closer to saturationupdrafts bring water vapour to supersaturation
liquid and solid water in atmospherefalling raindrops dissipate potential energyatmospheric motion lifts vapour and droplets
soil water contentcontinental run-off depletes potential energy to mean sea levelprecipitation adds water to continents
carbon cyclingdifference in CO2 concentration between atmosphere and interiorvolcanic outgassingmantle convection
organic carbonrespirationphotosynthesis
rock cyclingtopographic gradientserosion depletes potential gradientsplate tectonics lifts unweathered material to the surface
distance to saturationdissolution brings concentration to saturationinput of unsaturated water by precipitation