Manabe and Hasselmann’s Path to Nobel Prize in Physics 2021

2021.11.17 14:00-16:00

1st Floor (auditorium), Institute of Physics, Academia Sinica

Dr. Hsu, Huang-Hsiung / CEO & Distinguished Research Fellow

Research Center for Environmental Changes, ACADEMIA SINICA

As mentioned by Manabe and Hasselmann, it was surprising at first to learn that Nobel Prize in Physics 2021 was awarded to two climatologists. On the second thought, it was not surprising at all if realizing the purpose of the Nobel Prize “to endow prizes to those who, during the preceding year, have conferred the greatest benefit to humankind”. In fact, it is the third time that climate-related issues were recognized by the Nobel Prize, namely, Chemistry Prize in 1995, Peace Prize in 2007, and Physics Prize in 2021. Climate system involving interaction between atmosphere, hydrosphere, cryosphere, biosphere, and the most recent agent “anthroposphere” could be one of the most complex systems that human has ever encountered. Manabe projected the warming we are now facing more than 50 years ago using a simplified atmospheric model and then slowly made his earth system model more complex to entangle the Climate Puzzle. He and colleagues created the foundation of earth system models that are now widely used in understanding past climate and projecting future climate. Hasselmann as an oceanographer who studied turbulence and ocean wave interaction in early years realized how seemingly random processes (such as weather) could trigger well-organized large-scale and low-frequency variability (such as climate). He crafted a fingerprint methodology to quantify the relative contribution of natural processes and human activities to the climate change and created a new research field Detection and Attribution. The global heating we are now facing is nothing new to the climate science community but may be a shocking news to many outside the field. Hasselamnn said “we have been warning against climate change for about 50 years or so”. How did this ignorance happen? How did Manabe and Hasselmann have the foresight, what have they done, and who they are? This talk will explore for you.