The Institute of Atmospheric Physics (IAP) at the University of Arizona was established in the early 1950s primarily as a research institute for the purpose of investigating the use of cloud seeding to increase rainfall in the Arizona desert. The Department of Atmospheric Sciences (ATMO), the degree granting program, followed in 1957, with research efforts continuing to be housed in the IAP. The first head of department was Dr. A.R. Kassander, a leading member of the original group that oversaw the establishment of the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR) and the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). Also Vice President for Research at the Graduate College at that time, Kassander was a key member of the original Hydrology Committee that oversaw formation of that degree granting department.
The Department of Hydrology and Water Resources (HWR) at the University of Arizona had its origins within the Department of Geology in 1961 when it became a subarea of specialization within that major. A governing committee, spearheaded by Dr. John W. Harshbarger, then Department Head of Geology, oversaw the development of the undergraduate and graduate curricula which had their basis in the physical science, mathematical, and engineering disciplines (see the First 50 Years for details). Academic coursework was coupled with the development of field methodology and practice, as well as theoretical and applied research. In 1966, the Department of Hydrology and Water Resources became the first autonomous department (independent from other majors) in the nation devoted solely to the study of water.
In January 2016 after more than a year of planning, the Arizona Board of Regents approved the merger of both departments to create the Department of Hydrology and Atmospheric Sciences. The research and teaching portfolio of our newly evolved department reflects a new paradigm of integrated atmospheric and hydrologic science. Today we combine both the historical and existing strengths that have developed within both our departments to build a new foundation upon which to build future research and training needs. Indeed, the ties that bind us go back a long way!