American Geophysical Union honors two CSU atmospheric scientists

Two Colorado State University atmospheric scientists have been recognized by the American Geophysical Union, a professional organization of more than 60,000 Earth and space scientists. Professor Emeritus Wayne Schubert has been elected a fellow, and Professor Scott Denning will receive the Climate Communication Prize. AGU will honor Schubert and Denning during a ceremony at its Fall Meeting in Chicago.

Wayne Schubert – Fellow

Portrait of Wayne Schubert
Atmospheric Science Professor Emeritus Wayne Schubert

Fellowship recognizes outstanding contributions to the Earth and space sciences. Fellows demonstrate remarkable innovation and/or sustained scientific impact. Less than one-tenth of 1% of AGU members are selected for this honor each year.

“AGU Fellows serve as global leaders and experts who propel our understanding of geosciences,” AGU President Susan Lozier said in her announcement of this year’s class of fellows.

This honor joins many others Schubert has collected during 48 years with the Department of Atmospheric Science. In 2021, AGU chose Schubert to deliver the Jule Gregory Charney Lecture. The Charney Lecture is presented to a prominent scientist who has made exceptional contributions to the understanding of weather and climate. Schubert, now retired from teaching but not research, has made pioneering discoveries in his studies of tropical cyclones, moist convection, and the dynamics of mesoscale and synoptic-scale phenomena.

The American Meteorological Society also gave Schubert the Jule G. Charney Medal, one of the organization’s top awards, in 2016, and honored him with a named symposium at the AMS Centennial Meeting in 2020.

“It is indeed a great honor to be elected an AGU Fellow, and I thank all those involved in nominating me,” Schubert said. “One of my fond memories in attending the annual AGU meetings is setting aside time to drop in on some of the talks being given on a wide variety of topics. Just when you think you know something about geophysics, that can be quite humbling.”

Scott Denning – Climate Communication Prize

Portrait photo of Scott Denning
Atmospheric Science Professor Scott Denning

The Climate Communication Prize is given annually to a scientist who has had significant impact communicating climate science to the public. Over the past 15 years, Denning has shifted his focus from climate and biogeochemical research to climate communication and outreach, delivering hundreds of talks to audiences of all ages and levels of openness to the subject matter.

Denning developed courses on global climate change for undergraduates and graduates that have been posted online to reach more students. He also regularly addresses climate topics on news segments and broadcasts such as PBS NOVA’s “Can We Cool the Planet?

Denning has led workshops and developed content to teach meteorologists, teachers and journalists how to communicate about climate change.

“I have been a broadcast meteorologist for over 40 years, and Dr. Scott Denning has had a major impact on my knowledge and understanding of climate change,” Mike Nelson, KMGH-TV chief meteorologist, wrote in his nomination letter. “Whenever I have a question from a viewer that I cannot understand, Scott is always patiently willing to take the time to teach me more about the science of our warming world.”

Denning earned his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in atmospheric science from CSU in 1993 and 1994, and joined the faculty in 1998. Denning said he’s grateful AGU has chosen to recognize climate communication because it is so important.

“The people who have gotten [the prize] in the past are giants in the field of explaining this problem to the public, and I am just touched to be honored in this way,” he said.