Articles | Volume 14, issue 3
Review article
14 Jun 2018
Review article |  | 14 Jun 2018

Thermodynamic properties of seawater, ice and humid air: TEOS-10, before and beyond

Rainer Feistel

Abstract. In the terrestrial climate system, water is a key player in the form of its different ambient phases of ice, liquid and vapour, admixed with sea salt in the ocean and with dry air in the atmosphere. For proper balances of climatic energy and entropy fluxes in models and observations, a highly accurate, consistent and comprehensive thermodynamic standard framework is requisite in geophysics and climate research. The new Thermodynamic Equation of Seawater – 2010 (TEOS-10) constitutes such a standard for properties of water in its various manifestations in the hydrological cycle. TEOS-10 was recommended internationally in 2009 by the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) to replace the previous 1980 seawater standard, EOS-80, and in 2011 by the International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics (IUGG) as the official description for the properties of seawater, of ice and of humid air. This paper briefly reviews the development of TEOS-10, its novel axiomatic properties, the new oceanographic tools it offers and the important tasks that still await solutions by ongoing research. Among the latter are new definitions and measurement standards for seawater salinity and pH in order to establish their metrological traceability to the International System of Units (SI) for the first time after a century of widespread use. Of similar climatological relevance is the development and recommendation of a uniform standard definition of atmospheric relative humidity that is unambiguous and rigorously based on physical principles.

The leading thermodynamic properties of a fluid are determined by the relations which exist between volume, pressure, temperature, energy, and entropy … But all the relations existing between these five quantities for any substance …may be deduced from the single relation existing for that substance between volume, energy, and entropy.
Josiah Willard Gibbs, 1873b

Short summary
TEOS-10 is the present international standard for thermodynamic properties of water, ice, seawater and humid air recommended for geosciences by leading international organisations such as UNESCO/IOC and IUGG. TEOS-10 incorporates an extended manifold of different experimental data for those substances, collected from publications over many decades, in an unprecedentedly compact, consistent, comprehensive and accurate way.