Desert Research Institute

A U.S. map with drought monitor readings from October 6, 2020. The map displays extreme and exceptional drought throughout the west, with the most notable readings in Utah, Nevada and New Mexico.
Brian Fuchs / National Drought Mitigation Center

A few weeks ago, rancher Noah Brooks said what was troubling him most was the weather.

“The fact that it didn’t rain, June, July, August but maybe three times, that this community runs around cattle and feed and if we don’t get some rain, we’re in big big trouble, and I think that we’re drying out,” he said.

Brooks lives in Clark, Colorado. But the conditions he describes are persistent throughout the region.

InciWeb

A new study suggests smoke from wildfires is more dangerous than other air pollutants for asthma patients. 

Photo of a lake with visible rocks under the water and a woman paddleboarding.
Isaac Hoops

The Annual Tahoe Summit was held virtually on Tuesday. This year, officials focused on climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on the lake.

Dozens of large, yellow lithium-ion batteries are bolted together. They are being charged by solar power.
Yo-Co-Man / Creative Commons

Despite all the favorable conditions and high demand for solar power in Nevada, there are challenges.

There's the COVID-19 pandemic, which is likely to stall or even cancel some solar projects that are under development, according to federal energy projections. There's a more fundamental problem as well, though: the sun doesn't always shine. That's why more battery storage is needed to capture and store solar when the sun is up, so utilities have enough to deliver when the sun is down.

But one Nevada solar plant has found another solution. KUNR's Benjamin Payne has the story.

A sidewalk with Quarantine Day 20 written in chalk.
Stephen A. Wolfe / Flickr Creative Commons

Data sets related to COVID-19 are everywhere. Cases, deaths, tests, hospital admissions, just to name a few. Now, researchers in the Mountain West are collecting personal stories to get a fuller understanding of the virus.

Cannabis plants under green light.
Vera Samburova/DRI

The same chemicals that give cannabis its distinct smell may be contributing to air pollution and affecting human health. Recent tests of four cannabis grow facilities in Nevada and California found that the plants naturally release compounds that, when they accumulate in the air, create smog.

Drones are increasingly being used to study the effects of wildfires. This drone is collecting data from a large prescribed burn earlier this year at the Fishlake National Forest in Utah.
Desert Research Institute

From more intense wildfires to prolonged droughts, climate change is impacting the ecology of the American West. That’s got researchers in our region looking at a new way to fight some of these impacts: drones.

Healthy Nevada Project

Nevadans are taking part in a groundbreaking genetic study that could give researchers insights into public health across the state.

Nearly 50,000 Nevadans have already taken part in the Healthy Nevada Project. Now the study is expanding statewide, making it one of the largest of its kind in the world. Participants donate saliva in exchange for their DNA information. Joseph Grzymski is the principal investigator for the project.

fire burning trees on mountain
Matt Howard via Unsplash

A recent federal climate change report offers a grim outlook on the future. More wildfires, poorer air-quality and an increase in heat-related illnesses are expected. KUNR’s Anh Gray spoke with Tim Brown, an expert from the Desert Research Institute, to get his perspective on what global warming means for the health and safety of Nevadans.

Pexels.com

The Food and Drug Administration is considering a plan that would curb the use of electronic-cigarettes among teenagers. As Reno Public Radio’s Anh Gray reports, a group of Nevada researchers found that a significant amount of cancer-causing chemicals remain in the lungs from vaping.

Helix

Since 2016, Renown Health and the Desert Research Institute, or DRI, have been studying data from the genetic testing of 10,000 Northern Nevadans, as part of their Healthy Nevada Project. The goal is to learn more about health factors and risks for people across the region.

Over the next year or so, the project is going to grow significantly, as another 40,000 new participants are tested. Our News Director Michelle Billman spoke to Dr. Tony Slonim, the president of Renown Health, about the expansion.

Michelle Matus

Production and cultivation of marijuana are ramping up in Nevada, but development on a commercial scale comes with certain air quality challenges.

Reno Public Radio’s Noah visited a specialized greenhouse to learn more about the potential environmental impact of the cannabis industry.

Desert Research Institute

Gummi Bear, Tutti Fruitty, and Bubble Gum are just a few e-cigarette flavors. The Desert Research Institute recently discovered that they produce toxic chemicals during vaping. Reno Public Radio’s Anh Gray has the details.

Renown Health

Nevada will soon be home to a large-scale public health study focusing on personal genetic information. It's a combined-effort by Renown Health, the Desert Research Institute, and a genetic-testing company called 23andMe.

The National Weather Service has issued an excessive heat warning to several western states including parts of California and southern Nevada. The higher temperatures also pose an extreme fire danger. Reno Public Radio’s Anh Gray explores what the risks are in Northern Nevada.

Climate researcher Dan McEvoy is with the Desert Research Institute.

Expert: Wet Spring Could Yield More Wildfire Fuel

Apr 13, 2016
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

April showers could produce more fuel for wildfires this summer.

Spring is in full bloom in Northern Nevada, and that has some meteorologists concerned, like Gina McGuire of the Great Basin Coordination Center.

"The main caveat this year is going to be the spring growth with the wet conditions we've seen, a lot of precipitation in the winter and spring, and most likely a wet April and cool April ahead for most of Nevada and most of the great Basin."

Desert Research Insitute

The Desert Research Institute recently unveiled its new Wildland Fire Science Center, a concept that brings together scientists from various disciplines to combat wildfires. As wildfire season approaches, Reno Public Radio's Noah Glick chatted with the center's new director, Hans Moosmüller.

NG: This is not a physical, research center. So what is this?

Researchers Testing Cloud Seeding With Drones

Mar 16, 2016
Julia Ritchey

A month after researchers conducted a cloud-seeding test using unmanned aircraft, a Reno-based drone company is building the next generation. As Reno Public Radio's Julia Ritchey reports, the project hopes to bring cloud seeding into the 21st century.

Inside the shop at Drone America, design engineer Kyle Pruett is showing off their plans for a new unmanned, fixed-wing aircraft called the Savant.

Kevin Clifford / Drone America

The Desert Research Institute has successfully tested an unmanned drone flight that could help lessen the impact of drought. Reno Public Radio’s Noah Glick breaks down what that means.

 

Cloud seeding is a practice in which tiny amounts of ice crystals and chemicals are released into the atmosphere to promote more moisture and precipitation during storms. 

Adam Watts is with the DRI and led the project team, which equipped an unmanned aircraft with a cloud seeding payload. He says drones can be an effective supplement to traditional ground and aerial efforts.

Dr. Loretta Singletary
UNR

Spring is here, but winter once again never really visited the West. Drought is on everyone’s mind, and University of Nevada, Reno research related to the region's water and its users has gained important funding.  

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