“Syukuro Manabe demonstrated how increased levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere lead to increased temperatures at the surface of the Earth,” the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences noted in announcing the award today. “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.”
Manabe is a senior meteorologist in the Program in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences. He shares the Nobel Prize for the physical modeling of the climate with Klaus Hasselmann of the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology, Hamburg, Germany. The other half of this year’s physics prize was awarded to Giorgio Parisi of the Sapienza University of Rome, Italy, “for the discovery of the interplay of disorder and fluctuations in physical systems from atomic to planetary scales.” The prize amount is 10 million Swedish kroner, or about $1.14 million.
“When I got the phone call this morning, I was so surprised,” Manabe said. “Usually, the Nobel Prize in physics is awarded to physicists making a fundamental contribution in physics. Yes, my work is based on physics, but it’s applied physics. Geophysics. This is the first time the Nobel Prize has been awarded for the kind of work I have done: the study of climate change.”