Please select one of the attached term paper topics. Many of the topics are broad and you may want to select
some sub-topic, i.e. a limited area that fits under the broader umbrella of the topic as a whole. Alternatively,
rather than choose a topic from this list, you can pick a topic outside of this list, as long as it is related to the
course; in this case, please check with the instructor to ensure that your topic is appropriate for the course.
Please add your name and chosen topic to the sign-up sheet posted in Moodle. A topic can be chosen by more
than one person, but no collaboration is permitted. No more than 4 people can sign up for the same topic.
The following guidelines should be used:
1. The goal of the term paper is to write a concise literature review, together with a critical evaluation of the
state of knowledge and of the work reported so far, on a given topic. A possible general format of the paper
follows (feel free to use any other format if it suits your needs).
a. Introduction: General concepts, definition of the problem.
b. Literature Review: Describe, in your own words, the various approaches taken by researchers in the field,
their differences and similarities. Analyze the relative usefulness of each approach, its strengths and limitations.
c. Conclusions: Summarize the state-of-the-art, including a discussion of possible unresolved questions. If
possible, suggest future directions/approaches/studies that may be promising in advancing knowledge in this
d. References and Notes.
2. The total length of the paper should not exceed 15 double-spaced typed pages (about 3,000 words), including
figures and references.
3. You are encouraged to consult additional sources if you need to clarify or expand on certain points. The
references listed are intended only as a possible starting point. They may or may not be the best for a particular
topic and you are encouraged to search for appropriate and recent papers and reviews on the topic.
4. Try not to repeat material from the papers and books. If you do, please acknowledge it.
5. Thermodynamics is a basic science and its application spans many disciplines. Most of the topics listed fall
under the headings of the physical sciences and engineering – particularly physical chemistry, chemical
engineering and chemical physics. However, ideas of thermodynamics (particularly the Second Law and
entropy) and statistical mechanics (distribution functions, fluctuation theory, Monte Carlo simulation) have
been used to try to understand other and diverse fields, and some topics from these areas have been added to the
list below. They include cosmic evolution (38), economics (42, 44, 45), artificial intelligence (43), traffic flow
(46), and the origin of life and evolution (50). Some of the published works introduce postulates or assumptions
that are in addition to the usual laws of thermodynamics and statistical mechanics. In those cases you should try
to analyze critically these ideas, and try to give a balanced summary of the evidence for and against such
Analysis and prediction of the effects of climate change involves the application of thermodynamics, fluid
mechanics, heat and mass transfer and other sciences. Thermodynamic factors are involved in the overall
energy balance, the influence of changing concentrations of greenhouse gases (particularly carbon dioxide,
methane), latent heat of vaporization (increasingly powerful hurricanes, forest fires) and melting (loss of ice
sheets, melting of icebergs), and the exponential increase of vapor pressure with rising temperature.
1. V. Lucarini, K.Fraedrich and F. Lunkeit, “Thermodynamics of Climate Change: Generalized Sensitivities”,
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 10, 9729-9737 (2010).
2. A. Beyene and R. Zevenhoven, “Thermodynamics of Climate Change”, Intl. J. Global Warming, 5, Issue 1
3. G.R. Bigg, M.R. Wadley, D.P. Stevens and J.A. Johnson, “Modelling the Dynamics and Thermodynamics
of Icebergs”, Cold Regions Science & Technology, 26, 113-135 (1997)