Nobel Prize awarded to AGU scientists for their work on climate change

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We are extending a huge congratulations today to three scientists who were awarded the 2021 Nobel Prize in Physics for their work on complex systems. We are especially delighted that two AGU members and awardees have received this honor for laying the foundation for modeling Earth’s climate and how humans are changing our climate.

AGU Member, AGU Fellow and winner of the AGU Bowie and Revelle medals, Syukuro Manabe, shared one half of the prize with Klaus Hasselmann, also an AGU Fellow and a winner of the AGU Macelwane Medal, “for the physical modelling of Earth’s climate, quantifying variability and reliably predicting global warming.”

Manabe is a professor at Princeton University and Hasselmann is at the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology, where he was also the founding director.

Manabe and Hasselmann “laid the foundation of our knowledge of the Earth’s climate and how humanity influences it,” according to the The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, who awards the Nobel Prizes.

Manabe’s work demonstrated how increased levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere lead to higher temperatures at the Earth’s surface. His research laid the foundation for the development of our current climate models.

Hasselmann created a model linking together weather and climate, as well as methods for identifying signals of natural and human activities on the climate. His research has helped show how human emissions of carbon dioxide have led to higher temperatures in the atmosphere.

Together, Manabe and Hasselmann have had a seminal influence in the development of climate science and have mentored and motivated many current members of our community.

They share the prize in physics with Giorgio Parisi, a professor at the Sapienza University of Rome, “for the discovery of the interplay of disorder and fluctuations in physical systems from atomic to planetary scales.” Parisi discovered hidden patterns in disordered complex materials. His discoveries are among the most important contributions to the theory of complex systems.

I hope you will join us in congratulating these scientists on their remarkable achievements and in recognizing their immense contributions to the Earth and space sciences and to society. Their work has helped us understand how and why our climate is changing, providing a firm basis for solutions to the current climate crisis.

Be sure to also check out a special collection of papers published in AGU journals by Manabe and Hasselmann. 

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