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Nobel Winner 'Gobsmacked': 'I'm Just a Climate Scientist!'

Syukuro Manabe of US/Japan shares grand prize in physics with researchers from Germany, Italy
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Oct 5, 2021 6:00 AM CDT
Updated Oct 5, 2021 7:06 AM CDT
Nobel Winner 'Gobsmacked': 'I'm Just a Climate Scientist!'
In this file photo dated April 17, 2015, the gold Nobel Prize medal is seen.   (AP Photo/Fernando Vergara, File)

(Newser) – Day two of the Nobels is underway, with a second prize awarded for the week in science. This time around, the Nobel Prize for physics has been awarded to scientists from the US/Japan, Germany, and Italy, for their "groundbreaking contributions to our understanding of complex physical systems," per an online announcement. A release notes that "complex systems are characterized by randomness and disorder and are difficult to understand," with this year's winners lauded for coming up with new ways to describe those systems and predict "long-term behavior."

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The AP reports that Syukuro Manabe of Princeton University and Klaus Hasselmann of Germany's Max Planck Institute for Meteorology were cited for their work in "the physical modeling of Earth's climate, quantifying variability, and reliably predicting global warming." Manabe has shown how increased CO2 levels in the atmosphere have warmed the Earth's surface, with current climate models now based on his work. Meanwhile, Hasselmann developed a model linking climate and weather, "thus answering the question of why climate models can be reliable despite weather being changeable and chaotic," per the release.

The second half of the prize was awarded to Giorgio Parisi of Rome's Sapienza University for "the discovery of the interplay of disorder and fluctuations in physical systems from atomic to planetary scales." Parisi is said to have made "among the most important contributions to the theory of complex systems," findings that have led to deeper understanding in not only physics, but also mathematics, biology, neuroscience, and machine learning.

The winners were announced Tuesday by Goran Hansson, secretary general of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. A Nobel Committee member said Manabe was "gobsmacked" when he heard he'd won, per Physics World. "I'm just a climate scientist!" he exclaimed. The prestigious award comes with a gold medal and more than $1.14 million. Over the coming days, prizes will also be awarded for outstanding work in the fields of chemistry, literature, peace, and economics. (Read more Nobel Prize stories.)

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