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Abstract

Three major problems in cave micrometeorology are analysed: the concept of the temperature of a cave and its phenomenology; the internal energy flows and consequent local entropy production; and a non-hydrostatic physical model of the underground convective air circulation. A cave’s temperature is rich in information, but it is often difficult to obtain because it requires experimental accuracies to be pushed beyond the reach of common external meteorological instruments to detect a variety of factors, such as thermal sedimentation, seasonal variations and the effects of external morphology. Energy flow has an essential role in estimating the sensitivity of a cave to external inputs. A model for evaluating the local entropy production is developed. Entropy seems to be the most basic parameter, explaining both the sensitivity of the environment and its tendency to form complex structures. Analysis of the second-order terms of convective air circulation is more complex than expected; nevertheless, only such an analysis is able to explain the behaviours (e.g. continuity in the airflow) that cannot be predicted by the first-order models.

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