The 2021 Nobel Prize in Physics awarded to two climate experts and an Italian theorist

Syukuro Manabe and Klaus Hasselmann are pioneers in climate modeling, and Giorgio Parisi has highlighted the importance of disorder in complex systems.

The 2021 Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded on Tuesday to two experts in the physical modeling of climate change, the Japanese-American Syukuro Manabe and the German Klaus Hasselmann, as well as to the Italian Giorgio Parisi, theorist of complex physical systems.

For the first half, the prize jointly rewards Manabe, 90, and Hasselmann, 89, both meteorological researchers, “For the physical modeling of the Earth’s climate and for having quantified its variability and reliably predicted global warming”, according to the jury.

With this prize in the midst of the climate crisis, the Nobel committee rewards Manabe’s founding work on the greenhouse effect in the 1960s, by which he showed that a doubling of the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere would lead to an overall increase temperatures of 2 ° C, an order of magnitude that is still relevant decades later with advances in climatology.

The German Hasselmann is credited for having succeeded in establishing reliable climate models despite the great weather variations.

The other half of the price goes to Parisi, 73, “For the discovery of the interaction of disorder and fluctuations in physical systems from atomic scale to planetary scale”. His arduous work has been among “the most important contributions” to the theory of so-called complex systems, and has had many applications in a wide variety of scientific fields.

Last year, the prize was awarded to the Briton Roger Penrose, the German Reinhard Genzel and the American Andrea Ghez, three pioneers in research on “black holes”, regions of the Universe from which nothing can be done. escape.

Astronomy was also crowned in 2019, for the discovery of the first exoplanet, leaving prognosticators to think that the price of physics would move away from space this year.

Quantum physicists as well as Parisi served as favorites, according to experts interviewed by AFP, even if dozens of researchers around the world were considered Nobelisables in physics.


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