Three scientists won the Nobel Prize for physics for their research on complex systems like climate change. The awards were announced Tuesday. The prize was split, with one half going to Giorgio Parisi of Italy for “the discovery of the interplay of disorder and fluctuations in physical systems from atomic to planetary scales.” The Nobel Committee awarded the other half to Syukuro Manabe, originally from Japan, and Klaus Hasselmann of Germany for their work in “the physical modeling of Earth’s climate, quantifying variability and reliably predicting global warming.” Manabe’s work beginning in the 1960s laid the foundation for current climate modeling and Hasselmann helped explain why climate modeling can be reliable despite the apparent chaos of weather.
“Physics-based climate models made it possible to predict the amount and pace of global warming, including some of the consequences like rising seas, increased extreme rainfall events and stronger hurricanes, decades before they could be observed,” German climate scientist Stefan Rahmstorf told the AP. “We now witnessing how [Manabe and Hasselmann’s] early predictions are coming true one after the other.” (AP, NPR, The Guardian, Reuters, New York Times $, Washington Post $)