The Nobel Prize in Physics is going to three scientists this year for their research on complex systems such as climate. They have to share the price of one million euros.
One half of the prize is for American climatologist of Japanese origin Syukuro Manabe (1931) and German oceanographer Klaus Hasselmann (1931) for their research into reliably predicting global warming. The other half goes to Italian theoretical physicist Giorgio Parisi (1948) for his research on hidden patterns in disordered complex materials, from atomic level to planetary scale.
Higher temperature by man
Syukuro Manabe demonstrated in the 1960s how elevated levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere lead to elevated temperatures on the Earths surface. His work laid the foundation for the development of todays climate models. About ten years later Klaus Hasselmann created a model that connects weather and climate to answer the question of why climate models can be reliable, even if the weather is hit and chaotic.
Hasselmann also developed methods used to prove that the elevated temperature in the atmosphere is due to human carbon dioxide emissions.
According to the Swedish Nobel Committee, Giorgio Parisis discoveries are among the most important contributions to the theory of complex systems. They make it possible to understand and describe seemingly entirely arbitrary materials and phenomena not only in physics, but also in other fields, such as mathematics, biology, neuroscience and machine learning, the committee said.
The link between the three prize winners was not immediately clear to all journalists present at the time of the announcement. According to Chairman Thors Hans Hansson of the Nobel Committee, chaos and fluctuations are the overarching themes. “We can predict what happens to our climate in the future if we know how to understand the chaotic weather.”
According to Hansson, the discoveries show that human knowledge about the climate is based on a solid scientific foundation. “Based on a thorough analysis of observations. This years laureates have all contributed to gaining deeper insight into the properties and evolution of complex physical systems.”
One of the journalists present asked if the committee would also like to send a message to the world leaders about the climate crisis with this award. “Im not sure if the world leaders who have not yet understood the message will understand it because we say it,” Hansson responded. “This is a physics prize.” He then emphasized once again that climate models have a solid foundation in physics.