The Western Regional Climate Center has several projects involving climate monitoring. Water managers rely on climate monitoring to assess current water conditions and project water needs into the future. Drought conditions in the western U.S. have prompted local, state and federal water agencies to look at a variety of methods to conserve and increase water resources. One method is weather modification, particularly cloud seeding to enhance winter snowpacks. DRI's Atmospheric Sciences have been and continue to be involved in research in this area, which has the potential for being a cost effective means of enhancing water resources. The research has been in several areas including atmospheric plume dispersion modeling, in-situ and remote sensing studies of winter cloud systems, ultra trace chemical studies of snow (in collaboration with the Hydrologic Sciences trace chemistry lab), and hydrologic modeling (also in collaboration with Hydrologic Science colleagues). Atmospheric scientists are looking into this area of geoengineering from a modeling perspective.
Wildfire related applied research falls within four general categories – fire weather (including air quality), fire climate, fire societal and fire visualization. Current fire weather research includes examining particulate emissions from biomass burning, physics and chemistry of biomass burning, developing a forecast algorithm for dry lightning and providing operational fire weather and smoke management projects. Current fire related research that incorporates a societal component includes surveys of fire managers on the use and utilization of climate information, establishing partnerships between scientists and decision makers, and performing a social network analysis on the use of seasonal fire outlooks.