Japanese American scientist awarded 2021 Nobel Physics Prize for seminal climate change research

Nobel Physics Prize awarded to Japanese American

A Japanese American scientist was one of three 2021 Nobel Physics Prize winners for his groundbreaking work in climate change research.

The prize: Syukuro “Suki” Manabe, 90, received the news over the phone on Tuesday, according to Princeton University.

  • Manabe was awarded a quarter of the 10 million Swedish kronor ($275,000) prize alongside German Klaus Hasselmann, 89, and Italian Giorgio Parisi, 73, who received a quarter ($275,000) and a half ($550,000), respectively.
  • “I was really happy and surprised,” he said. “I never dreamed I would win the Nobel physics prize. If you look at the list of past winners, they are amazing people who have done marvelous work. In contrast, what I have been doing looks trivial to me. But I’m not going to complain!”
  • Manabe won “for the physical modeling of Earth’s climate, quantifying variability and reliably predicting global warming.”
  • The scientist’s work pioneered climate change studies to come, but he didn’t expect the enormous impact he would have.
  • Calling his research “great fun,” he came about his finds all because of his curiosity and because he enjoyed studying it.

Advocate for change: Born in 1931 in Ehime Prefecture, Japan, Manabe studied at the University of Tokyo until he moved to the U.S. and became a citizen in 1975, according to the Japan Times.

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  • In the ‘60s, he found that the carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere were related to increased surface temperatures on Earth. He played a key role in pointing out that water vapor trapped heat more than carbon dioxide.
  • “Suki Manabe is a pillar in the field of climate science,” Princeton professor Denise Mauzerall said. “Climate models built on Manabe’s foundation are critical tools today for predicting and analyzing how the world will change as a result of greenhouse gas emissions, and to quantify the enormous benefit of rapidly decreasing greenhouse gas emissions for life on Earth.”
  • Manabe is currently a senior meteorologist at Princeton University and has been a part of the Ivy League’s faculty since 1968.
  • He also wrote a book titled “Beyond Global Warming” with researcher Anthony Broccoli, which was published in 2020. It took him 15 years to write because he continually tried to clarify the science behind it.
  • “I hope many people will read this book,” Manabe said. “It only has a few equations. And if you find something too technical, skip it.”
  • He does have a message to climate change naysayers, stating “There are many phenomena showing climate change is happening.” He added that it will continue to intensify droughts and storms, warm land temperatures and melt polar ice in the coming years.

Featured Image via Reuters

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