Nobel laureate and founding director Klaus Hasselmann on his 90th birthday

Prof. Dr. Klaus Hasselmann completed his 90th year of life on October 25, 2021. The Max Planck Institute for Meteorology (MPI-M) warmly congratulates its founding director on this special birthday. His contributions to the scientific and public understanding of climate change were groundbreaking, which is underpinned by the award of the Nobel Prize in Physics on October 5, 2021. "He is one of the greatest of our field, we owe Klaus Hasselmann a lot! On his 90th birthday, we wish him all the best and many more wonderful years in good health," says Prof. Bjorn Stevens, Managing Director of the MPI-M.

Credit: MPI-M

Klaus Hasselmann was the first director of MPI-M, alongside Prof. Hans Hinzpeter, after its founding in 1975 and directed it until his retirement in 1999. His research has made ground-breaking contributions to the understanding of the ocean-atmosphere system including the prediction of ocean waves, the origin of natural climate variability, and the modeling of the global coupled ocean-atmosphere-carbon cycle system.

Klaus Hasselmann received great recognition and the Nobel Prize in particular for his work proving that the recent global warming trends are primarily attributable to human activities. Thanks to his excellent mathematical skills and his vast knowledge of the fundamental system properties of ocean, atmosphere and land, Klaus Hasselmann developed a "fingerprint method" that separated the influence of natural phenomena from that of anthropogenic accumulations of atmospheric greenhouse gases. He thus created a milestone in science: for the first time, it was thus possible to distinguish between the influence of humans and nature on the observed climate change. Klaus Hasselmann's sustained efforts also have played a key role in forging a widely-recognized research community on climate change.

"Klaus Hasselmann has demonstrated that humans are responsible for the observed global warming. This turned man-made warming from — albeit very plausible! — hypothesis to a fact. And without this fact, a global agreement such as the one reached in the Paris Climate Agreement would have been unthinkable," says Director Prof. Jochem Marotzke.

Klaus Hasselmann studied Physics and Mathematics at the University of Hamburg and received his PhD in Physics from the University of Göttingen in 1957. He was professor at Scripps Institution of Oceanography (1961 - 1964), and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Laboratory (1970 - 1972) in the USA and at the Institute of Geophysics (1973 - 1974) of the University of Hamburg. Presently he is emeritus director at the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology.

During his remarkable career, Klaus Hasselmann received numerous awards for his scientific work in climate research and oceanography, e.g., the Umweltpreis of the Deutsche Bundesstiftung Umwelt in 1998. In 2002 he was awarded the Vilhelm Bjerknes Medal of the European Geosciences Union and in 2009 he received the BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award in the category of climate science, a highly remunerated recognition. He has been an honorary member of the Royal Meteorological Society since 2014. The crowning achievement of his scientific career is the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2021.

More information:

Personal website at MPI-M

Texts and videos Nobel Prize for Physics 2021:

MPI-M website
Website of the Max Planck Society
DKRZ on the Nobel Prize for Physics 2021


Prof. em. Dr. Klaus Hasselmann
Max Planck Institute for Meteorology
E-Mail: klaus.hasselmann@we dont want

Dr. Annette Kirk
Max Planck Institute for Meteorology
Phone: +49 (0) 40 41173 374
Email: annette.kirk@we dont want