Dissipative heating is produced by irreversible processes, such as viscous or ohmic heating, in a convecting fluid; its importance depends on the ratio d/HT of the depth of the convecting region to the temperature scale height. Integrating the entropy equation for steady flow yields an upper bound to the total rate of dissipative heating in a convecting layer. For liquids there is a regime in which the ratio of dissipative heating to the convected heat flux is approximately equal to c(d/HT), where the constant c is independent of the Rayleigh number. This result is confirmed by numerical experiments using the Boussinesq approximation, which is valid only if d/HT is small. For deep layers the dissipative heating rate may be much greater than the convected heat flux. If the earth's magnetic field is maintained by a convectively driven dynamo, ohmic losses are limited to 5% of the convected flux emerging from the core. In the earth's mantle viscous heating may be important locally beneath ridges and behind island arcs.
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