Climate modelling and discovery of patterns win Nobel Prize

Nobel Prize in Physics is jointly awarded to three scientists for their ‘groundbreaking’ contributions modelling climate change, and for the discovery of hidden patterns in ‘entirely random materials’

  • The Nobel Prize for physics is one of a number of awards made every year
  • They are given by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences from Stockholm
  • The Nobel Prize consists of a gold medal and a cash award of £841,000 ($1.1m)
  • It can be shared between multiple recipients as was the case last year 
  • The prize this year has been awarded to scientists working on ‘complex systems’
  • Syukuro Manabe and Klaus Hasselmann work on modelling Earth’s climate
  • Giorgio Parisi discovered details of the interplay of disorder and fluctuation 

The 2021 Nobel Prize for physics has been shared between scientists working on models to predict global warming and the interplay of planetary systems.

One half of the prize is split between Syukuro Manabe and Klaus Hasselmann for their work in the ‘physical modelling of Earth’s climate, quantifying variability and reliably predicting global warming,’ according to the Nobel Committee.

The other half of the prize will go to Giorgio Parisi for the ‘discovery of the interplay of disorder and fluctuations in physical systems from atomic to planetary scales.’ 

This is one of the most prestigious prizes in science, and in the past honoured discoveries about fundamental forces of nature and cosmic phenomena.

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences announced the latest recipient on Tuesday from its stunning Session Hall in Stockholm at 10:45 BST (05:45 EDT).

It is common for several scientists who work in related fields to share the prize, which includes £841,000 ($1.14 million) and a gold medal.

One half of the prize is split between Syukuro Manabe and Klaus Hasselmann for their work in the ‘physical modelling of Earth’s climate, quantifying variability and reliably predicting global warming,’ according to the Nobel Committee

The other half of the prize will go to Giorgio Parisi for the ‘discovery of the interplay of disorder and fluctuations in physical systems from atomic to planetary scales’

FILE- In this file photo dated Friday, April 17, 2015, a national library employee shows the gold Nobel Prize medal. The Nobel Prize in Physics will be awarded on Tuesday Oct. 5, 2021. (AP Photo/Fernando Vergara, File)

WHAT DID THEY DISCOVER? 

Syukuro Manabe demonstrated how increased levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere lead to increased temperatures at the surface. 

In the 1960s, he led development of physical models of the Earth’s climate. 

His work laid the foundation for the development of climate models. 

Klaus Hasselmann created a model linking weather and climate, 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. 

Giorgio Parisi discovered hidden patterns in disordered complex materials. 

His discoveries are 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.

The committee made the award to the three scientists as their studies shared a common theme of ‘chaotic and apparently random phenomena’.   

Complex systems are characterised by randomness and disorder, and because of this are difficult to understand and predict – especially long-term. 

Syukuro Manabe demonstrated how increased levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere lead to increased temperatures at the surface of the Earth. 

In the 1960s, he led the development of physical models of the Earth’s climate and was the first person to explore the interaction between radiation balance and the vertical transport of air masses. 

His work laid the foundation for the development of current climate models.

About ten years later, Klaus Hasselmann 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. 

He also developed methods for identifying specific signals, fingerprints, that both natural phenomena and human activities imprint in he climate. 

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

Around 1980, Giorgio Parisi discovered hidden patterns in disordered complex materials. His discoveries are 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. 

After the announcement, Parisi said that ‘it´s very urgent that we take very strong decisions and move at a very strong pace’ in tackling climate change.

‘It´s clear for future generations that we have to act now,’ he said.

Last year, the prize went to American Andrea Ghez, Roger Penrose of Britain and Reinhard Genzel of Germany for their research into black holes. 

‘The discoveries being recognised this year demonstrate that our knowledge about the climate rests on a solid scientific foundation, based on a rigorous analysis of observations,’ says Thors Hans Hansson, chair of the Nobel Committee for Physics.

‘This year’s Laureates have all contributed to us gaining deeper insight into the properties and evolution of complex physical systems.’

The prize money comes from a bequest left by the prize’s creator, Swedish inventor Alfred Nobel, who died in 1895. 

Nobel made the bequest after reading a premature obituary that called him out for his work in the sale of arms through his company Bofors, which was built off the back of his many patents, including for dynamite.  

On Monday, the Nobel Committee awarded the prize in physiology or medicine to Americans David Julius and Ardem Patapoutian.    

Julius and Patapoutian shared the coveted award for identifying how the body converts physical sensations into electrical signals in the nervous system. 

The duo were credited with ‘unlocking one of the secrets of nature’ by the Nobel Committee.  

The pandemic continues to haunt the Nobel ceremonies, which are usually full of old-world pomp and glamour. 

The banquet in Stockholm has been postponed for a second successive year amid lingering worries about the virus and international travel.

THE 2021 NOBEL PRIZE FOR PHYSICS LAUREATES 

The 2021 Nobel Prize for Physics was split three ways. (L-R) Japanese-born meteorologist Syukuro Manabe, German physicist, climate researcher and oceanographer Klaus Hasselmann and Italian physicist Giorgio Parisi

Syukuro Manabe

Professor Manabe is the Senior Meteorologist at Princeton University in the US who pioneered the use of computers to simulate global climate change and natural climate variations.

Manabe was born in 1931 in Shingu, Japan, and gaining a PhD in 1957 from the University of Tokyo. 

In the 1960s, he led the development of physical models of the Earth’s climate and was the first person to explore the interaction between radiation balance and the vertical transport of air masses. 

His work laid the foundation for the development of current climate models.

Klaus Hasselmann

Professor Klaus Hasselmann works at the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology, in Hamburg, Germany, where is specialises as an oceanographer and climate modeller. 

He developed the Hasselmann model of climate variability, that can be used to predict changes in the climate over time.

Hasselmann was born in 1931 in Hamburg, Germany and gained his PhD in 1957 from the University of Göttingen, Germany. 

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

Giorgio Parisi 

Professor Parisi works at Sapienza University of Rome in Italy where he works as a theoretical physicist, specialising in quantum field theory, statistical mechanics and complex systems.

Born 1948 in Rome, Italy, Parisi gained a PhD in 1970 from Sapienza University of Rome, Italy. 

His best known contributions to science are equations that describe dynamic scaling of growing interfaces, and the study of whirling flocks of birds. 

The findings are among the most important contributions to the theory of complex systems as they make it possible to understand and describe many different and apparently entirely random materials and phenomena.

Source: Read Full Article