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The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences Tuesday announced the Nobel prize in physics goes to three scientists for their work in helping to understand complex physical systems, work that has proved valuable in quantifying and predicting climate.  

At a Stockholm news conference, the academy’s Secretary General Goran K. Hansson and a panel of Nobel jurors presented one half of the physics prize to Syukuro Manabe and Klaus Hasselmann “for the physical modelling of Earth’s climate, quantifying variability and reliably predicting global warming.”

Hansson said the other half of the prize has been awarded to Giorgio Parisi “for the discovery of the interplay of disorder and fluctuations in physical systems from atomic to planetary scales.” 

The panel said the work of Manabe and Hasselmann “laid the foundation of our knowledge of the Earth’s climate and how humanity influences it.”

Born in Japan and now a senior meteorologist at Princeton University, Manabe pioneered studies in how increased levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere lead to increased temperatures at the surface of the Earth. 

A professor of meteorology at Max Planck Institute for Meteorology, in Hamburg, Germany, 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.

And Sapienza University of Rome physicist Parisi, over the course of his career, discovered hidden patterns in disordered complex materials, making it possible to understand and describe many different and apparently entirely random materials and phenomena in all areas of science and mathematics.

The three scientists will split the $1.1 million cash prize.  The Nobel Prize for medicine was awarded Monday, with prizes for chemistry, literature, peace and economics to be awarded later this week and early next week.

Some information for this report was provided by the Associated Press, Reuters and Agence-France Presse.


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