Understanding how Earth’s climate is changing is essential to pinpoint the impact of human behavior on those changes, and ultimately to predict the impact of global warming, three scientists received the Nobel Prize in Physics.
The winners included Soukuro Manebe of Princeton University, Klaus Hasselmann of the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology in Hamburg, Germany, and Giorgio Paris of Sapienza University in Rome.
Others have received the Nobel Prize for their work on climate change, notably former US Vice President Al Gore, but the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said this is the first time a physics prize has been given specifically to a climate scientist. .
Complex physical systems, such as climate, are often defined by their disorder. This year’s winners helped understand what seemed like chaos by describing those systems and predicting their long-term behavior.
In 1967, Dr. Manabe developed a computer model that confirmed the significant relationship between the primary greenhouse gas – carbon dioxide – and warming in the atmosphere. Michael Mann, a climate scientist at Pennsylvania State University, said his later models, which explored the relationship between conditions in the ocean and the atmosphere, were important for recognizing that the melting of the Greenland ice sheet was causing oceanic changes in the North Atlantic. How circulation can be affected.
“They have made fundamental contributions to our understanding of human-caused climate change and dynamical mechanisms,” said Dr. Mann.
Nearly a decade after Dr. Manabe’s groundbreaking work, Dr. Hasselman created a model that links short-term climate phenomena such as rainfall to long-term climate such as ocean and atmospheric currents. Dr Mann said the work laid the basis for attribution studies, an area of scientific investigation that seeks to establish the impact of climate change on specific events such as drought, heat waves and intense rainfall.
Dr Perisi is credited with discovering the interaction of disorder and fluctuation in physical systems, which include everything from a small collection of atoms to the atmosphere of an entire planet.
All three scientists have been working for decades to understand the complex natural systems driving climate change, and their discoveries have provided the scaffolding on which to make climate predictions.