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October 5, 2021

Prof. Randall: Nobel winners made global warming predictions, modern modeling possible

Professor David Randall wrote this piece for The Conversation. Colorado State University is a contributing institution to The Conversation, an independent collaboration between editors and academics that provides informed news analysis and commentary to the general public.

As a climate scientist myself, I was excited to learn that Syukuro Manabe, Klaus Hasselmann and Giorgio Parisi have been awarded the 2021 Nobel Prize for Physics. I first met Manabe when I was a graduate student in the early 1970s, so I was particularly pleased that the prize recognizes the profound importance of Manabe’s decadeslong work on the creation of climate models, as well as the application of those models to understand how increasing levels of greenhouse gases have led to global warming.

How complicated is the weather and climate system?

Weather is what you see hour to hour and day to day. Weather involves just the atmosphere. Climate is the average weather over decades and is influenced by the oceans and the land surfaces.

Weather and climate are complicated because they involve many different physical processes – from the motion of air to the flow of electromagnetic radiation, such as sunlight, to the condensation of water vapor – across a wide range of spatial and temporal scales.

Read the full article, “Winners of 2021 Nobel Prize in Physics built mathematics of climate modeling, making predictions of global warming and modern weather forecasting possible.”

Image at top: The Earth’s weather and climate interactions form one of the most complex systems imaginable.
NASA/Joshua Stevens/Earth Observatory via Flickr, CC BY-NC