Oct 5, 2021 - Science

Nobel Prize in physics awarded for climate change research

Syukuro Manabe, Klaus Hasselmann and Giorgio Parisi were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics.
The Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to Syukuro Manabe, Klaus Hasselmann and Giorgio Parisi for reseach on climate change. Photo: Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP via Getty Images

Scientists Syukuro Manabe, Klaus Hasselmann and Giorgio Parisi received the Nobel Prize in physics on Tuesday for their work in predicting global warming and the understanding of complex physical systems.

Why it matters: These researchers helped describe and predict the long-term behavior of complex systems, like the Earth's climate, which are characterized by randomness and disorder and are difficult to understand.

What they're saying: “The discoveries being recognized this year demonstrate that our knowledge about the climate rests on a solid scientific foundation, based on a rigorous analysis of observations," Thors Hans Hansson, chair of the Nobel Committee for Physics, said.

  • "This year’s Laureates have all contributed to us gaining deeper insight into the properties and evolution of complex physical systems."

Thought bubble, via Axios' Andrew Freedman: This Nobel honors three pioneers in using physics to design increasingly sophisticated computer models used to simulate and project global warming.

  • Manabe, 90, for example, paved the way for the current generation of computer models run at NOAA's Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL) in Princeton, New Jersey. While the Nobel Peace Prize has gone to climate scientists before, namely the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 2007, this is a different level of recognition.

The big picture: Hasselmann, 89, created a model that links together weather and climate and helped answer why climate models can be reliable despite weather being changeable and chaotic.

  • Parisi, 73, conducted research that makes it possible to understand and describe many different and apparently entirely random phenomena in physics and other scientific fields.

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