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Learn about planets outside our solar system through Exoplanets and Alien Solar Systems by Tahir Yaqoob, Ph.D., a book in our online store book collection.
Photo of Scott Denning, a professor of Atmospheric Science at Colorado State University
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Courtesy of Scott Denning

Dr. Scott Denning

I am a professor of Atmospheric Science at Colorado State University. I study the interaction between the living land surface and the atmosphere as part of the Earth's climate system -- especially the "breathing" of the biosphere and its effect on atmospheric CO2. It turns out that growing plants absorb more CO2 each year than is released by respiration and decomposing stuff, which is very surprising to a lot of people. This "greening" of the Earth currently absorbs about 25% of the world's fossil fuel CO2, but is not well understood.

I was fascinated by stars, planets, the Moon, and the Earth as a kid, and wanted to be an astronomer. I had a telescope as a child and spent long summer nights staring into the cosmos. As a college student, I switched fields and studied Geology. Besides jobs as a waiter, cook, and pizza deliveryman, I worked in college on a project involving the effect of acid rain on lakes and streams in Maine , New Hampshire and Vermont . This involved lots of mosquitoes feeding on my blood in the great north woods! Later I worked in the oil industry, and in a high-mountain watershed in Rocky Mountain National Park . I was in my 30's before I finally went to graduate school to become a climate scientist, and got my PhD in 1994.

I still like astronomy and love to show planets and galaxies to my kids. I am an avid trail runner, and love to get out to the mountains when I can. I am also partial to French food and culture, having spent a year in France in 2006. My teenage son is trying to teach me about 21st century alternative rock music, which is stretching both my mind and my ears!

Last modified May 13, 2008 by Becca Hatheway.

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Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA