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Heat is the transfer of energy due to a temperature difference between two systems. Heat describes the process of converting from one form of energy into another. A car engine, for example, burns gasoline. Heat is produced when the burned fuel is chemically transformed into mostly $$\ce{CO2}$$ and $$\ce{H2O}$$, which are gases at the combustion temperature. These gases exert a force on a piston through a displacement, doing work and converting the piston’s kinetic energy into a variety of other forms—into the car’s kinetic energy; into electrical energy to run the spark plugs, radio, and lights; and back into stored energy in the car’s battery.
Figure $$\PageIndex{1}$$: A weak cold front of air pushes all the smog in northeastern China into a giant smog blanket over the Yellow Sea, as captured by NASA’s Terra satellite in 2012. To understand changes in weather and climate, such as the event shown here, you need a thorough knowledge of thermodynamics. (credit: modification of work by NASA)