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Nobel Prize in Physics: Two Europeans among winning trio for work on 'climate & physical systems'

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By Euronews  with AP
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The winners of the 2021 Nobel Prize in Physics
The winners of the 2021 Nobel Prize in Physics   -   Copyright  Credit: The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences

The Nobel Prize in Physics was on Tuesday given to a trio of scientists for their "groundbreaking contributions to our understanding of complex physical systems".

Syukuro Manabe and Klaus Hasselmann were praised "for the physical modelling of Earth's climate, quantifying variability and reliably predicting global warming," while Giorgio Parisi was rewarded "for the discovery of the interplay of disorder and fluctuations in physical systems from atomic to planetary scales".

Who is Syukuro Manabe?

Manabe, 90, is a Japanese meteorologist and climatologist who pioneered the use of computers to simulate global climate change.

The Nobel Committee said he was recognised for demonstrating "how increased levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere lead to increased temperatures at the surface of the Earth" and for leading "the development of physical models of the Earth's climate".

"His work laid the foundation for the development of current climate models," it added.

Who is Klaus Hasselmann?

Hasselmann, 89, is a German physicist who worked extensively on oceanography, meteorology and climate. He is the founder of the European Climate Forum, which later morphed into the Global Climate Forum. The Berlin-based organisation conducts high-level research on climate change and related global challenges.

The Committee flagged that Hasselmann had created a model "that links together weather and climate, thus answering the question of why climate models can be reliable despite weather being changeable and chaotic."

"His methods have been used to prove that the increased temperature in the atmosphere is due to human emissions of carbon dioxide," it also said.

Who is Giorgio Parisi?

Parisi is a 73-year-old Italian theoretical physicist who studied the field of elementary particles, mathematical physics, string theory and disordered systems.

The Committee described his discoveries in disordered complex materials as "among the most important contributions to the theory of complex systems."

"They make it possible to understand and describe many different and apparently entirely random materials and phenomena, not only in physics but also in other, very different areas, such as mathematics, biology, neuroscience and machine learning," it said.

He told reporters he was "very happy" to have received the prize. Asked whether he had a message to world leaders as they prepare to gather in Glasgow, Scotland, in November for the COP26 climate conference, he called for "very strong decisions", stressing that "we have to act now in a very fast way."

It is common for several scientists who work in related fields to share the prize. Last year, the prize went to American Andrea Ghez, Roger Penrose of Britain and Reinhard Genzel of Germany for their research into black holes.

Albert Einstein received the prize 100 years ago.

The prestigious award comes with a gold medal and 10 million Swedish kronor (about €1 million). The prize money comes from a bequest left by the prize’s creator, Swedish inventor Alfred Nobel, who died in 1895.

On Monday, the Nobel Committee awarded the prize in physiology or medicine to Americans David Julius and Ardem Patapoutian for their discoveries into how the human body perceives temperature and touch.

Over the coming days, prizes will also be awarded for outstanding work in the fields of chemistry, literature, peace and economics.