‘Great fun’: Manabe wins Nobel Prize in physics for modeling climate change

Oct. 5, 2021

Liz Fuller-Wright, Office of Communications

Very early on Tuesday, Oct. 5, Princeton climatologist Syukuro “Suki” Manabe got a phone call from Sweden telling him that he had won the 2021 Nobel Prize in physics.

“I was really happy and surprised,” said Manabe, a senior meteorologist in the Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences Program at Princeton University who is a pioneer in the field of climate change research. “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!”

By 6 a.m. Princeton time, the world knew that Manabe had won “for the physical modeling of Earth’s climate, quantifying variability and reliably predicting global warming.”

“We usually associate the Nobel Prize in physics with stellar music and faraway galaxies. This year, this prize is devoted to someone who devoted his life to the study of our very home,” said Stephan Fueglistaler, a professor of geosciences and the director of both AOS and the Cooperative Institute for Modeling the Earth System. “Dr. Manabe’s work is a wonderful example of how essentially blue-sky research, decades ago, can provide the foundation for understanding — and, hopefully, solving — existing problems.”

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