Climate Change

Physics Nobel 2021 to 3 for predicting climate change, building physical models for complex systems

Manabe and Hasselmann awarded for work in physical modelling of Earth’s climate, quantifying variability and reliably predicting global warming

 
By DTE Staff
Published: Tuesday 05 October 2021
Three scientists — Syukuro Manabe (90) and Klaus Hasselmann (89) and Giorgio Parisi (73) — have been awarded Nobel Prize for physics 2021. Photo: @NobelPrize / Twitter

Three scientists — Syukuro Manabe (90) and Klaus Hasselmann (89) and Giorgio Parisi (73) — have been awarded Nobel Prize for physics 2021.  

Manabe and Hasselmann were awarded for their work in “the physical modelling of Earth’s climate, quantifying variability and reliably predicting global warming”; Parisi was awarded for “the discovery of the interplay of disorder and fluctuations in physical systems from atomic to planetary scales.”

Manabe is from Japan, Hasselmann from Germany and Parisi from Italy. Manabe and Hasselmann have been jointly awarded one half of prize.  

The Nobel Committee panel said Manabe and Hasselmann “laid the foundation of our knowledge of the Earth’s climate and how humanity influences it”.

Manabe, starting in the 1960s, demonstrated how increases in the amount of carbon dioxide in atmosphere would increase global temperatures, laying the foundations for current climate models.

About a decade later, Hasselmann created a model that linked weather and climate, helping explain why climate models can be reliable despite the seemingly chaotic nature of the weather.

He also developed ways to look for specific signs of human influence on the climate.

Parisi “built a deep physical and mathematical model” that made it possible to understand complex systems in fields such as mathematics, biology, neuroscience and machine learning.

After the announcement, Parisi said that “it’s very urgent that we take very strong decisions and move at a very strong pace” in tackling climate change.

Last year, scientists Roger Penrose, Reinhard Genzel and Andrea Ghez won the Nobel physics prize for their discoveries concerning black holes.

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