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Thousands of scientists researching climate change share Nobel with Al Gore

GENEVA — Plenty of people share the glory of the Nobel Peace Prize — thousands of scientists have been studying and documenting climate change under a U.N. body set up in 1988 as concerns grew about global warming.

And they hope the award will help — or prod — governments to do more to curb global warming or avert disasters on the scale of a Hurricane Katrina or the deadly effects of the 2003 heat wave that killed up to 35,000 people in Europe.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, named co-winner with former Vice President Al Gore in Oslo on Friday, has been cranking out reports that have built up knowledge "about the connection between human activities and global warming," said the Nobel prize committee.

"Mother Nature keeps helping us along because the evidence just keeps piling up," said Kevin Trenberth, a lead author on the 1995, 2001 and 2007 reports.

Trenberth, the New Zealand-born head of the climate analysis section at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo., said he hopes the prize increases the impact of the explanations he and other scientists give to audiences ranging from town hall meetings to Congress.

"All the scientists that have contributed to the work of the IPCC are the Nobel laureates who have been recognized and acknowledged by the Nobel Prize Committee," said Rajendra Pachauri, the Indian engineer who chairs the panel.

"They should feel deeply encouraged and inspired. It is their contribution which has been recognized," said Pachauri. "I only happen to be a functionary that essentially oversees the process."

Leo Meyer, a climate and energy specialist with the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, said the award underscores the panel's role in encouraging policy makers to address the problem of climate change.

"There is still an important task of better explaining the findings of IPCC to a larger audience and this Nobel Prize of course helps to underline the credibility of the IPCC reports," Meyer told the AP.

Piers Forster from the School of Earth and Environment at England's University of Leeds said in a statement: "It's every scientist's dream to win a Nobel Prize, so this is great for myself and the hundreds that worked on their reports over the years. It's perhaps a little deflating though — that one man and his PowerPoint show has as much influence as the decades of dedicated work by so many scientists."

Associated Press writers Frank Jordans and Eliane Engeler contributed to this report.