2021 Nobel Prize In Physics Awarded To Three Scientists For Breakthrough Discoveries On Climate


Japanese-American climatologist Syukuro Manabe, German researcher Klaus Hasselmann and Italian physicist Giorgio Parisi were awarded the 2021 Nobel Prize in Physics on Tuesday for their breakthrough contributions in improving science’s understanding of climate models, global warming, and other complex phenomena.

Key Facts

In its press release, the Nobel Assembly said that the discoveries being recognized this year demonstrates “that our knowledge about the climate rests on a solid scientific foundation, based on a rigorous analysis of observations.”

One half of the prize was awarded to 90-year-old Manabe of Princeton University and 89-year-old Hasselmann of the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology in Hamburg, Germany, for their work predicting global warming and their physical modeling of Earth’s climate.

73-year-old Giorgio Parisi of the Sapienza University of Rome received the other half of the prize for discovering the “interplay of disorder and fluctuations in physical systems from atomic to planetary scales.”

The Nobel in Physics is the second of six prizes that are set to be announced this month, marking exceptional achievements in the fields of physics, chemistry, literature, peace, and economics.

The winners of the 2021 Nobel Prizes will receive a gold medal and 10 million Swedish kronor ($1.14 million).

Crucial Quote

After the announcement of the award, Parisi said: “It’s very urgent that we take very strong decisions and move at a very strong pace” in tackling climate change. “It’s clear for future generations that we have to act now.”

Key Background

Starting in the 1960s, Manabe demonstrated how the rise in carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere can lead to increased temperatures at the surface of the Earth. He then led the development of the physical models of the Earth’s climate and his work laid the foundation for the development of current climate models, the Nobel Assembly said. A decade after Manabe’s discoveries, Hasselmann created a model that linked weather and climate which helped explain why climate models can be reliable despite weather itself being unpredictable and chaotic. The German climate scientist also developed ways to identify specific signals which showed human impact on the changing climate. In the 1980s, Parisi discovered hidden patterns in disordered complex materials. According to the Nobel Assembly, his work makes it possible to understand many different and apparently entirely random materials and phenomena, not just in physics but also in areas such as mathematics, biology, neuroscience and machine learning.

Further Reading

Nobel physics prize goes to 3 for climate discoveries (Associated Press)

2021 Nobel Prize In Medicine Awarded To Scientists Who Discovered Temperature And Touch Receptors (Forbes)

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