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Logo of the Desert Research Institute

Desert Research Institute (DRI) is the nonprofit research campus of the Nevada System of Higher Education (NSHE), the organization that oversees all publicly supported higher education in the U.S. state of Nevada. At DRI, approximately 500 research faculty and support staff engage in more than $50 million in environmental research each year.[1] DRI's environmental research programs are divided into three core divisions (Atmospheric Sciences, Earth and Ecosystem Sciences, and Hydrologic Sciences) and two interdisciplinary centers (Center for Arid Lands Environmental Management and the Center for Watersheds and Environmental Sustainability). Established in 1988 and sponsored by AT&T, the institute's Nevada Medal awards "outstanding achievement in science and engineering".



Cloud Seeding Program

DRI weather modification research produced the Nevada State Cloud Seeding Program in the 1960s. This initiative, funded by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, seeks to augment snowfall in mountainous regions of Nevada in order to increase snow pack and water supply. DRI researchers use ground stations and aircraft to release microscopic silver iodide particles into winter clouds, stimulating the formation of ice crystals which develop to snow.[2]

Research indicates that cloud seeding leads to precipitation rate increases of 0.1 - 1.5 millimeters per hour.[citation needed]

Atmospheric and Dispersion Modeling Program

For over a decade the Atmospheric and Dispersion Modeling Program team has been performing work focused on observations and modeling of atmospheric dispersion processes over complex terrain and coastal areas.[3] In particular, the team is applying, developing, and evaluating mesoscale meteorological models as well as regulatory and advanced atmospheric dispersion models such as ISC3ST, AERMOD, WYNDVALLEY, ASPEN and CALPUFF. They have developed a Lagrangian Random Particle Dispersion Model that has been applied to complex coastal and inland environments.

Several recent projects led to developing real time mesoscale forecasting system using the MM5 model coupled with a Lagrangian random particle dispersion model and implementation of data assimilation schemes.


Founder Dr. Wendell Mordy

A two-page bill, signed into law by then Nevada Governor Grant Sawyer on March 23, 1959, authorized establishment of the Desert Research Institute at the University of Nevada, Reno.[4]

UNR hired Dr. Wendell Mordy as the Founding Director (1960-1969) of the University's Desert Research Institute, which initially was just an office at the top of the historic Morrill Hall building on UNR's campus. Early on Mordy also initiated the development of the UNR's Fleishmann Atmospherium Planetarium.[5]


Main research campuses
The Desert Research Institute, Reno, Nevada
Subsidiary campuses

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "About DRI". Desert Research Institute. Retrieved December 13, 2008.
  2. ^ "Synopsis of DRI Cloud Seeding Program". DRI Cloud Seeding Program. Desert Research Institute. Archived from the original on February 22, 2015. Retrieved July 9, 2011.
  3. ^ "Modeling Expertise". Desert Research Institute. Archived from the original on February 2, 2014. Retrieved December 13, 2008.
  4. ^
  5. ^ First-hand knowledge as the son of Edwin X Berry, who joined DRI in 1961.

External linksEdit