Science in the Mountains

Science in the Mountains is a FREE year-round, virtual lecture program. Join Mount Washington Observatory staff each month as we bring experts from across the fields of weather, climate and beyond to the comfort of your home screen. Register for each lecture below.
This FREE series is hosted virtually by Mount Washington Observatory using Zoom, and streams live on the Observatory’s Facebook Page. Recordings of each program are available the day after they air on MWO’s YouTube channel and below. See the upcoming schedule to find the link to register for each program:
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Upcoming Schedule

All programs begin at 7pm unless otherwise indicated, and we encourage you to connect early and come with questions!  
April 11th at 7pm: The Aurora Borealis and other Atmospheric Optics
Lourdes B. Aviles, Ph.D., Professor of Meteorology, Plymouth State University; Ryan Knapp, Weather Observer/Staff Meteorologist, Mount Washington Observatory
Between the breathtaking northern lights and the ghostly appearance of Brocken spectre, Mount Washington makes for an ideal location for viewing atmospheric optics and phenomena such as the aurora borealis. Plymouth State University Professor of Meteorology Dr. Lourdes Aviles will join us to talk about the vast Sun-Earth connections behind the appearance of the aurora borealis and help make sense of the science behind these and other visual displays, while MWOBS Staff Meteorologist Ryan Knapp will share his experience capturing atmospheric optics behind the camera. 
Zoom Registration Link: Click Here
 May 23rd at 7pm: The Keeling Curve and the Rise of Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide
Ralph Keeling, Ph.D., Professor of Geochemistry, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego
The Keeling Curve has long been considered the premier scientific evidence that human's burning of fossil fuels is changing the Earth's climate. This record of atmospheric carbon dioxide levels, established in 1958 by Charles David Keeling atop Mauna Loa in Hawaii, continues to be a vital long-term data source. Join Ralph Keeling, Scripps CO2 Program Director and son of Charles David Keeling, to learn about the legacy of the Keeling Curve, how CO2 measurements are taken, and more about the ongoing work at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.
Zoom Registration Link: Click Here 

Previous Programs

March 7th at 7pm: Winter Weather Whiplash
Alexandra Contosta, Ph.D., Research Assistant Professor, University of New Hampshire; John Campbell, Ph.D., Research Ecologist, US Forest Service
"Winter whiplash" is a term used to describe extreme swings in winter weather conditions, often with large sub-to-above freezing temperature shifts. Researchers using data at Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest in White Mountain National Forest have examined a number of "whiplash events" and their impacts on human and natural systems. Join researchers Alexandra Contosta and John Campbell as they share how understanding winter whiplash events can lead us to better approaches to potentially mitigating and adapting to our changing winter climate. 
January 17th at 7pm: The Connected Environment- West Coast Smoke and Central US Storms
Dr. Jiwen Fan, Laboratory Fellow, Earth Scientist, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
As you probably already know, wildfire events in the west, including places like California and Oregon, lead to destruction and poor air quality. Paradoxically, did you know they also lead to heavier precipitation and larger severe hail events in the central United States? Join Pacific Northwest National Laboratory Fellow Dr. Jiwen Fan as she unpacks a recent study linking these two seemingly disconnected events.
December 6th at 7pm: Weather Emergencies
Vanesa Urango, Chief of Mitigation and Recovery, New Hampshire Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management
New Hampshire's Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (HSEM) is charged with overseeing the state-level planning, preparation, response to, recovery from and mitigation of all emergencies and disasters. Join section chief Vanesa Urango for a presentation about how HSEM strives to keep New Hampshire citizens safe from weather-related natural disasters, and what you can do to stay informed and ready.
November 15th at 7pm: Weather Forecasting for the Aviation Community
Scott Reynolds, MSEM, Meteorologist-in-Charge, NOAA/NWS CWSU Nashua, NH
 Thousands of passenger flights take place each day across the country which require many support systems to get people safely from point to point. Join Meteorologist Scott Reynolds from NOAA/NWS's Center Weather Service Unit based in Nashua, New Hampshire, to learn about how forecasters develop and communicate weather information to the aviation community to keep the public safe.
October 11th at 7pm: Celebrating 90 Years of Mount Washington Observatory
Dr. Peter Crane, Curator, Gladys Brooks Memorial Library, Mount Washington Observatory
This October marks Mount Washington Observatory's 90 years of continuous weather observation at the "Home of the World's Worst Weather". Join MWOBS resident-historian and library curator, Dr. Peter Crane, as we take a look back at the legacy of this scientific institution with plenty of time reserved to ask questions and share your MWOBS memories.
September 13th at 7pm: Massive Tides, Warming Waters, and Rising Seas: The Gulf of Maine Explained
Dr. Hannah Baranes, Coastal Hazards / Sea Level Rise Scientist, Gulf of Maine Research Institute
The Gulf of Maine, the Atlantic Ocean basin extending from the north shore of Cape Cod to Nova Scotia, has the largest tides and one of the most biologically productive marine ecosystems in the world. It is also warming faster than 96% of the world's oceans and experiencing rates of sea level rise higher than the global average. What makes the Gulf of Maine so unique, and how is it responding to a changing climate? Join Dr. Baranes on September 13th to learn about tides, sea level rise, what caused the record-breaking flooding in 2018, and more.
August 16th at 7pm: MWOBS Summer Research Update
Naomi Lubkin, Henry Moskovitz, Summit Interns, Mount Washington Observatory; Larz von Huene, Intern, Appalachian Mountain Club
Join Mount Washington Observatory interns Naomi Lubkin and Henry Moskovitz, and Appalachian Mountain Club intern Larz von Huene as they provide updates on two newly launched weather and climate research projects. Projects initiated this summer include establishing lapse rates on Mount Washington (how air changes with height along mountainous terrains) and examining long-term wind and moisture trends from the summit weather station, and understanding what impacts, if any, these trends may have on the tree line in the White Mountains.

July 12th at 7pm: The Successes and Challenges of Hurricane Forecasting at the National Hurricane Center and What's in Store for the 2022 Season

John Cangialosi, Senior Hurricane Specialist, National Hurricane Center
This presentation will walk viewers through the operations of the National Hurricane Center and discuss the successes and ongoing challenges of making hurricane forecasts. In addition to the science predictions, the presentation will also highlight how the National Hurricane Center communicates their forecasts and works with countries from around the world to keep the public safe. An overview of what's expected in the 2022 season will also be provided.
May 14th at 7pm: Fourth National Climate Assessment: Outcomes of a risk-based exploration of the impacts of climate change across the Northeast
Lesley-Ann L. Dupigny-Giroux, Ph.D., Professor & Vermont State Climatologist, President- American Association of State Climatologists, National Author- Water Chapter- Fifth National Climate Assessment
 This presentation will look 'under the hood' of the creation and outcomes of the Northeast chapter of the Fourth National Climate Assessment (NCA4), which was released in November 2018. It will look forward to the Fifth National Climate Assessment which is currently in progress with an anticipated 2023 release.

April 12th at 7pm: Mount Washington Observatory's Next Generation Anemometer

Sam Robinson, Weather Observer/Engineer, Mount Washington Observatory
Measuring the wind speed at the summit of Mount Washington is no easy feat. It requires fully custom, heated anemometers to accurately measure super-hurricane-force winds while surviving brutal cold and severe icing conditions. Through a partnership with General Electric and UMass Lowell, an all-new pitot tube anemometer was designed, built, and tested to improve on previous designs used on the summit. Join Sam Robinson of MWOBS to learn about the history of measuring wind on the summit, why the new pitot design was warranted, and its journey to becoming an operational instrument.

March 15th at 7pm: Avalanche Forecasting in the Presidential Range

Patrick Scanlan, Avalanche Forecaster/Snow Ranger, Mount Washington Avalanche Center
The Mount Washington Avalanche Center, operated by the United States Forest Service, is the only Avalanche Forecast Center operated east of the Rockies. Join Patrick Scanlan, an Avalanche Forecaster and Snow Ranger at the Mount Washington Avalanche Center, when he will discuss the ins-and-outs of avalanche forecasting on Mount Washington, search and rescue, and avalanche safety.

February 8th at 7pm: They Led the Way: 19th Century Weather Observers on Mount Washington

Dr. Peter Crane, Curator, Gladys Brooks Memorial Library, Mount Washington Observatory
Most White Mountains enthusiasts are familiar with today's Mount Washington Observatory- but they might not be aware of the nineteenth-century weather observers who pioneered our knowledge of "The World's Worst Weather." This program will consider the bold efforts of the Huntington-Hitchcock Expedition which occupied the summit of Mount Washington in 1870-1871, and the two decades of the U.S. Army Signal Service weather station which followed. Both endeavors served as an example and inspiration for the founding of the Observatory in 1932.

January 18th at 7pm: Reaching New Heights on Mt. Everest: Insights from the Highest Weather Stations in the World

Baker Perry, Ph.D., Professor of Geography and Planning,
Appalachian State University
The highest elevations of the Himalayas are among the most rapidly changing environments on the planet and of immense hydro-climatological significance, yet meteorological observations are largely non-existent above ~5,500 m. As a result, scientific understanding of glacier-climate interactions, paleoclimate reconstructions from ice cores, and future high-elevation climate change remains limited. As part of the most comprehensive single research expedition to date in the region, Dr. Perry's team installed a network of five weather stations at elevations ranging from 3,810 m to 8,430 m during the 2019 National Geographic and Rolex Perpetual Planet Expedition to Mount Everest. The Balcony (8,430 m) and South Col (7,945 m) weather stations are the highest ever installed. This presentation will discuss (1) the numerous challenges specific to the design and installation of the weather stations, (2) particular challenges in conducting scientific research above 8,000 m; and (3) initial insights from the data collected thus far.
December 14th at 7pm: Extra-Earth Exploration- What's It Like Where We're Going?
Mirka Zapletal, Director of Education, McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center
NASA has big plans for getting astronauts back to the Moon and then on to Mars, plus ideas about exploring asteroids and other moons. Getting there is one big challenge- being there is another. What kinds of conditions will astronauts have to contend with as they journey away from Earth?

November 16th at 7pm: Rare Butterfly Research in the White Mountains

Heidi Holman, Biologist, New Hampshire Fish & Game
The Presidential Range of New Hampshire has some of the harshest weather in the world, but can you believe that there are two unique butterflies that live their entire lives in the alpine zone of these mountains! Although the range of these species is protected by the White Mountain National Forest, they are vulnerable to threats such as off-trail recreation and climate change. Join biologist Heidi Holman from New Hampshire Fish & Game to learn about the research being done to determine the population status of the White Mountain Arctic and White Mountain Fritillary, two unique gems living at the top of New England.

October 19th at 7pm: Climate Trends from Mount Washington, New Hampshire

Georgia Murray, Staff Scientist, Appalachian Mountain Club
Long-term climate records in mountains are limited with the Mount Washington Observatory's own dataset providing one of the most robust resources in the Northeast. An updated analysis of climate trends from the Mount Washington Summit and nearby Pinkham Notch has been published led by long-term partner the Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC). Join AMC's Staff Scientist Georgia Murray to review the most recent temperature and snow trends as well as other climate indicators from the Northeast's highest peak. The Community Snow Observations project, that engages winter hikers in snow depth monitoring, will also be presented as an approach to improving snowpack estimates in mountain environments.

September 21st at 7pm: Charting the Last Great Global Warming: Ice Age Lessons for a Warming World

Dr. Aaron Putnam, Assistant Professor, University of Maine
About 18,000 years ago, the last ice age came to a stunning end in a signature event called the "last glacial termination". But what caused this abrupt, great global warming event is still not entirely understood. Join University of Maine Assistant Professor Dr. Aaron Putnam to learn about what our most recent glacial period, the largest natural climate variation registered during the timeframe of humans, might teach us about our warming world today.

August 10th at 7pm: The New Normal: Understanding the Newly Released 1991-2020 Climate Normals

Dr. Mary Stampone, Associate Professor, University of New Hampshire & New Hampshire State Climatologist; Mount Washington Observatory Staff & Interns
Have you ever wondered what it means when a weather-person says today's weather is hotter, cooler, wetter or drier than normal? Just what is "normal" and how is it determined? Join State Climatologist and UNH Associate Professor Mary Stampone and MWO Staff and Interns for this special program that will help us investigate the recently released 1991-2020 set of normals and how they compare to the 1981-2010 set across the region and specifically around Mount Washington.

July 13th at 7pm: The Science of Fire Weather

Dr. Neil Lareau, Assistant Professor, University of Nevada, Reno
Weather and wildfire are inextricably linked. When weather and ground conditions are right a tiny spark can spawn not only a massive fire, but fire-produced thunderstorms and sometimes even tornadoes. Join University of Nevada-Reno Assistant Professor, and former Mount Washington Observatory Weather Observer Dr. Neil Lareau, as he helps us explore the science behind how the atmosphere enhances and responds to wildfire.

June 15th at 7pm: Views From the Top: Long-Term Visibility Trends at Blue Hill and Mount Washington Observatories

Mike Iacono, Chief Scientist, Blue Hill Observatory; Jay Broccolo, Weather Observer, Mount Washington Observatory
As two prominent points in New England, Blue Hill, Massachusetts and Mount Washington, New Hampshire have long been excellent places to take in a sweeping view of the horizon. Coincidentally, both locations have been home to New England's longest-running human-powered weather observatories. Join Blue Hill Observatory's Chief Scientist Mike Iacono, and Mount Washington Observatory Weather Observer Jay Broccolo to learn about recent investigations into long-term visibility data collected at both sites, and what these data may mean about the region's long-term air quality.

May 11th at 7pm: Our Changing Climate and Horticultural Impacts

Dave Epstein, Meteorologist, Author and College Instructor, Founder of
Hear from meteorologist and horticulturalist Dave Epstein, as he looks at climates past, present and future and the impact to plants both close to home and further afield. Dave has been a forecaster for three decades and a lifelong gardener. Dave can be seen writing for the Boston Globe or contributing on-air for WBZ-CBS Boston, and has worked for WBUR. You can also watch Dave's videos on gardening at Program slides available here.

April 13th at 7pm: Weather or Not: Understanding the Higher Summits Forecast

Ty Gagne, Author, CEO of Primex; Ryan Knapp, Weather Observer/Staff Meteorologist, Mount Washington Observatory
Have you ever experienced weather in the White Mountains that was completely different than what you expected? Was it warm and sunny one minute and sleeting the next? Have you found yourself in a weather situation that you were not properly equipped for? You're not alone! Join Weather Observer/Staff Meteorologist Ryan Knapp and Author/Risk Professional Ty Gagne as they discuss effective strategies for interpreting and implementing the Higher Summits forecast in your trip planning.
March 16th at 7pm: The Other End of the Thermometer: Weather at the Hottest Place on Earth
Dan Berc, Warning Coordination Meteorologist, National Weather Service Las Vegas, Nevada Office
With a temperature of 134F, recorded on July 10, 1913, Death Valley, California holds the record for the highest reliably recorded surface temperature on Earth. Join Meteorologist Dan Berc as he explores the climate of Death Valley, the history behind the world record, the instrumentation used to measure extreme heat over the years, and the process for certifying extreme weather measurements.
 February 9th at 7pm: Breaking the Ice: The First Winter Scientific Expedition to Mount Washington
Dr. Peter Crane, Curator, Gladys Brooks Memorial Library, Mount Washington Observatory
This winter marks the 150th anniversary of the Huntington-Hitchcock Expedition, which was the first to spend a winter atop Mount Washington. Led by two geologists, the 1870-1871 adventure occupied the summit to explore and document the mountain's remarkable winter weather. The expedition paved the way for the U.S. Signal Service weather station on the summit, and served as the inspiration for re-occupying the summit by the Mount Washington Observatory in 1932.

December 8th at 7pm: Extreme Extraterrestrial Weather

Mirka Zapletal, Director of Education, McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center
Hurricanes, ice storms, and tornadoes can be dangerous, destructive, and even life-threatening, but our storms are tame when compared to those in other parts of the Solar System. Imagine the power of a storm bigger than a planet or one than rains diamonds- that's extreme weather! Join us to learn about the places in our Solar System where bad weather gets taken to the next level.

November 10th at 7pm: Winter Weather in a Warming World

Elizabeth Burakowski, PhD, Research Assistant Professor, University of New Hampshire
Are New Hampshire winters warming? Yes! But fewer than half of state residents correctly recognize the trend. In this talk, we'll explore how winters have changed over the past 100 years, what climate trends we can expect in the future, and the impacts of climate change on ecosystems and society.
October 6th at 7pm: Weather Instrumentation at the “Home of the World’s Worst Weather”

Nicole Tallman, Weather Observer/Education Specialist, MWO; Keith Garrett, Information Systems Administrator, MWO; Brian Fitzgerald, Director of Science & Education, MWO

When you hear Mount Washington Observatory, you probably think about the summit station, but did you know that all-told the Observatory operates over 18 “weather stations” including its mesonet system across Mount Washington, the White Mountains and the Mount Washington Valley? Join MWO staff in this live program to learn about what people, expertise and instrumentation it takes to operate multiple weather stations in extreme environments, and why these data matter!
August 25th at 7pm: The Legacy of Hurricane Irene
Ryan Knapp: Sr. Staff Meteorologist/Night Observer MWO; Mary Stampone, PhD: Associate Professor, New Hampshire State Climatologist, University of New Hampshire; David Hollinger, PhD: Director USDA Northeast Climate Hub; Brian Fitzgerald (moderator), Director of Science & Education MWO
Nine years have passed since the landfall of Hurricane Irene in the Northeast, but the wide and devastating impacts seen in the region are still fresh in our minds. Join MWO Sr. Meteorologist Ryan Knapp, State Climatologist & UNH Associate Professor Mary Stampone and Physiologist and Director of the USDA’s Northeast Climate Hub David Hollinger to engage in a discussion about the meteorological, climatological and economic impacts of Hurricane Irene, and what the Northeast will expect in the future.
August 11th at 7pm: Thunderstorms, Lightning & Lightning Safety
Nicole Tallman: MWO Weather Observer/Education Specialist; John Jensenius, Meteorologist, Lightning Safety Specialist, National Lightning Safety Council
Summer is a fantastic time to enjoy the outdoors- but when those puffy clouds start to grow and thunder roars, it’s time to get to a safe place. In this two-part program we’ll learn about how blue skies can give way to towering supercell thunderstorms capable of producing hail, damaging winds, flash floods and spectacular lightning. Then John Jensenius, Meteorologist and Lightning Safety Specialist with the National Lightning Safety Council, will cut through all of the folklore and misconceptions to help you and those in your care stay safe during thunderstorms.
July 28, 2020 at 7pm: Mount Washington Observatory: 87 Years of Observation, People & Stories
Nate Iannuccillo: MWO Weather Observer/Education Specialists; Brian Fitzgerald: MWO Director of Science & Education
Since re-occupying the summit in 1932, weather observers atop Mount Washington have recorded the weather around the clock, amassing one of North America’s longest-running climate records. Along the way, observers have recorded world record wind speeds, adopted cats, supported rescues and cooked Thanksgiving turkeys for co-workers and visitors. Join MWO staff as they share how life and work at 6,288 feet have changed and what remains the same at this unique and extreme weather outpost.


Brian Fitzgerald, Director of Science & Education
(603) 356-2137, ext. 225
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