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!
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