Professor Paul Crutzen, 1991

A scientists’ scientist who always seems to be one step ahead

The 1991 Prize was awarded to Professor Paul Crutzen of the Max Planck Institute of Chemistry in Mainz, Germany, one of the world’s leading research scientists in the field of atmospheric chemistry. Professor Crutzen has achieved this eminence by undertaking a series of major research projects over a period of more than 20 years, including studies of ozone layer depletion and the greenhouse effect. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1995.


The Prize Jury’s Citation:
Professor Crutzen was awarded the Prize for an outstanding ability to identity and elucidate critical features governing the chemical behaviour of the atmosphere. He has shown great ability to excel in a wide scope of interrelated researh activities in topics relevant to atmospheric science.

Most known for:
Paul Crutzen, has made pioneering work for our understanding of ozone formation and destruction in the atmosphere, how it affects the green house effect with a potential risk for global warming and the ozone layer in the stratosphere, leading to increased ultraviolet radiation on the earth surface and thereby increased risk for cancer and damages to the microbial life in the ground. He has also studied how sulphur emissions affect the climate and the formation of clouds.

“It was thanks to Paul Crutzen that we skirted a previous global atmospheric threat: the destruction of the stratospheric ozone layer. If the warnings from him and his fellow winners of the 1995 Nobel Prize in chemistry, Sherwood Rowland and Mario Molina, hadn’t come when they did, the Antarctic ozone hole might have proved disastrous.” James Hansen, director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies

In 1982 Paul crutzen pointed out that a nuclear war might cause extensive fires with accompanying disastrous effects on the climate of the earth. The smoke from the fire is expected to efficiently shield the lower parts of the atmosphere and the surface of the earth from a large fraction of the sun radiation. This will cause a drastic cooling which we know under the name “nuclear winter”.

Nobel Prize
Four years after being a Volvo Environment Prize laureate Paul Crutzen was awarded the 1995 Nobel Prize in Chemistry together with Mario Molina (Volvo Environment Prize laureate of 2004) and Sherwood Rowland “for their work in atmospheric chemistry, particularly concerning the formation and decomposition of ozone”.

He caused a stir with the publication of a paper in 2006 suggesting that injecting the common pollutant sulfur into the stratosphere some 10 miles above the earth could snuff out the greenhouse effect. He believes that dispersing 1 million tons of sulfur into the stratosphere each year, either on balloons or in rockets, would deflect sunlight and cool the planet. Scientists observed that world temperatures dropped by 0.5 degrees centigrade on average when Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines erupted in 1991, spewing sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere.

2008: Atmospheric scientist Paul J Crutzen said clouds gathering over the world economy could ease the earth’s environmental burden.
“Slower economic growth worldwide could help slow growth of carbon dioxide emissions and trigger more careful use of energy resources, though the global economic turmoil may also divert focus from efforts to counter climate change”, Global Environment 08

Paul Crutzen will attend a seminar at Chalmers Technical University 2 November 2009 together with this year’s laureate Dr Susan Solomon a former graduate student of Crutzen´s. More information about this seminar will be posted later.

More Crutzen:
Personal home page
Autobiography, Nobel Prize winners
Heros of the Environmnet, Time/CNN


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One Response to “Professor Paul Crutzen, 1991”

  1. Le Brésil au XIXème et XXIème siècle « Neuroanthropology Says:

    […] Paul Crutzen a récemment proposé que dans la dernière moitié du XVIII ème siècle on pourrait dire que le monde est entré dans une nouvelle ère géologique que nous pourrions appeler ‘’ l’Anthropocène’’ parce que cela correspondrait à l’époque où les activités humaines, catalysées par la Révolution Industrielle, ont commencé à dominer tous les écosystèmes de la terre (Crutzen & Stoermer, 2000). C’est seulement après la révolution agraire et industrielle, et avec les progrès en médecine, que la population a augmenté jusqu’à 1 milliard ! Depuis, la population a doublé (2 milliards) en 1927, et doublé à nouveau (4 milliards) en 1977 (Diczfalusy, 1991), et va doubler encore dans les années qui viennent. Les controles naturels du surpeuplement ont été affectés par les progrés de la medicine. […]

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