Scott Denning is passionate about understanding and explaining the Earth and our roles in shaping and being shaped by it. As a child, he wanted to be an astronomer. In college, he switched to Geology and worked briefly in the oil industry before switching to the study of high mountain snowpack and the chemistry of the streams and lakes derived from it. But he settled into a science career in the atmosphere, splitting the difference between the distant cosmos and the deep rocks. He sailed on Semester at Sea in Spring 2020, teaching Global Studies while crossing the Pacific and Indian Oceans into the jaws of COVID-19. He currently serves as a distinguished visiting professor at Yale University, teaching about climate change and the carbon cycle, and will reprise that role sailing on Summer at Sea in 2022.
Scott is Monfort Professor of Atmospheric Science at Colorado State University, where he led a large research group using many kinds of observations and models to understand the metabolism of the Earth’s biosphere. A key contribution of his research is the identification and prediction of sources and sinks of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere using new satellite instruments. In addition to using global satellite imagery, his research has included extensive field work in the great north woods of Wisconsin, the farms of Iowa, and the Amazon rainforest. He served for 10 years as Director of Education and Diversity for a major climate modeling center, working to enhance understanding of global climate through K-12, undergraduate, and graduate study as well as informal education and public presentations. He’s author of more than 110 publications cited more than 17,000 times in the peer-reviewed climate literature, a former editor of the Journal of Climate, and was founding Science Chair of the North American Carbon Program. He has served on advisory panels for NASA, NOAA, the US Department of Energy, and the National Science Foundation, and several nonprofits.
Scott is passionate about explaining the Three S’s of Climate Change (Simple, Serious, and Solvable) to public audiences of all kinds. He lives in Fort Collins Colorado with his spouse of 31 years and an old cat. An avid amateur astronomer, Scott spends clear moonless nights photographing the galaxy from a remote mountain cabin.