The citation to Gore said: "He is probably the single individual who has done most to create greater worldwide understanding of the measures that need to be adopted."
It also said that Gore "has for a long time been one of the world's leading environmentalist politicians" and cited his awareness at an early stage "of the climatic challenges the world is facing".
The last American to win the prize was Jimmy Carter, the former US president, in 2002.
Gore said he was honoured to share the prize and said climate change is a moral, not a political, issue.
"We face a true planetary emergency. The climate crisis is not a political issue, it is a moral and spiritual challenge to all of humanity. It is also our greatest opportunity to lift global consciousness to a higher level," he said in a statement.
Gore also said he would donate all of his share of the proceeds to a non-profit organisation that is devoted to changing public opinion in the US and around the world about the urgency of solving the climate crisis.UN panel
The IPCC, a UN body comprising of around 3,000 atmospheric scientists, oceanographers, ice specialists, economists and other experts, is considered the world's top scientific authority on global warming and its impact.
The Nobel committee praised the organisation for two decades of scientific reports that have "created an ever-broader informed consensus about the connection between human activities and global warming".
It went on to say that because of its efforts, global warming has been increasingly recognised.
The committee said that in the 1980s, climate change was "merely an interesting hypothesis" whilst the 1990s "produced firmer evidence in its support".
"In the last few years, the connections have become even clearer and the consequences still more apparent," the committee said.
"This year, climate change has been at the top of the world agenda."
The UN climate panel has scheduled a series of talks aimed at replacing the 1997 Kyoto Protocol on climate are set to resume.
In recent years, the Norwegian committee has broadened its interpretation of peacemaking and disarmament efforts originally outlined by Alfred Nobel, a Swedish industrialist, in his will in 1895.
Today, the prize recognises human rights, democracy, the elimination of poverty, sharing resources and the environment.