Observatory Staff and Interns Present Projects at AMS Annual Meeting

2022-03-02 05:56:17.000 – Brian Fitzgerald, Director of Science & Education


Mount Washington Observatory staff and interns presented two research posters and an overview of our WeatherX curriculum development project during the 102nd American Meteorological Society’s (AMS) Annual Meeting, held virtually in January.
After planning an in-person meeting in Houston, the AMS made the tough call to change course and host an all-virtual meeting due to the Covid-19 surge earlier this year. Many across the AMS community expressed support of this decision for the cause of health and safety. 
Our staff attended a variety of the virtual presentations throughout the week of Jan. 23-27 as part of professional development. In addition, thanks to our successful topic proposals last year, the AMS invited MWOBS to present the following two research projects and one education project.
Project Title: A Data Exploration of Visibility at Mount Washington Observatory (1943-2020)
Presented by Weather Observer and Meteorologist Jay Broccolo. Download poster. 
The main goals of this project were to 1) explore the availability and quality of visibility data on Mount Washington and 2) conduct an initial analysis to determine what, if any, trends were apparent since 1943.
All available visibility data were extracted from our summit database to determine what might be available for analysis. The data were compiled into groupings such as seasonal averages and counts of 100 miles or greater observations and then plotted over time.
Overall, a general increase in visibility has been reported since continuous visibility records started at MWOBS, using a proxy recorded visibility called lowest visibility, which is derived from prevailing visibility.
To continue this research, prevailing visibility should be digitized for analysis, and statistical decadal comparisons should be made. Findings should also be assessed against changes in prevailing wind direction and air quality data. Additional information is available on our current projects page.
Project Title: A Comparison of Climate Normals across the Mount Washington Valley, New Hampshire (1981-2010 and 1991-2020)
Presented by Jay Broccolo and Summit Interns Michael Brown and A.J. Mastrangelo. Download poster.
Our 2021 summer interns completed a project examining climate data for the Mount Washington region. The group examined monthly temperature, precipitation, and snowfall data released from the National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) for three local weather stations over the two latest 30-year observation periods, 1981-2010 and 1991-2020.
The recorded differences between the two datasets were used to create several visuals to best describe the changes at the three locations since 1981.
Across the three stations, located at the summit of Mount Washington, the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center, and in North Conway Village, a general warming trend was observed between the two datasets. Additionally, while the summit station recorded less annual precipitation, the other locations observed increased rainfall. Finally, all three locations recorded higher annual snowfall values; in addition, a general increase in the snowpack duration was observed.
Of particular interest to the group was an increase in late winter snow at the North Conway and Pinkham Notch stations, possibly signaling a shifting snow season.
Future research endeavors to extend the findings of this project, as recommended by the interns, include investigations regarding the mountain’s rain shadow effect, North American snow seasonality, local urban heat islands, and changing storm tracks as four. More information is available in this article
Project Title: Understanding Weather Extremes with Big Data: Inspiring Rural Youth in Data Science
Presented by Director of Science & Education Brian Fitzgerald. View presentation. 


Mount Washington Observatory, along with colleagues at the Education Development Center (EDC), Concord Consortium, and the universities of Maine and Washington, have teamed up to develop curriculum called “Understanding Weather Extremes with Big Data: Inspiring Rural Youth in Data Science,” or WeatherX for short.
Using extreme weather data from NOAA and MWOBS, rural middle school students gain skills in data analysis and computational thinking, while also learning about scientists who gather and use this data in their day-to-day professions. A significant focus of the WeatherX materials is on making career connections that help inspire students to pursue STEM careers.
As part of the 31st Conference on Education highlighting the career connections approach and results, Fitzgerald also spoke about the “Chat with a Scientist” part of WeatherX. Participating classrooms learn about the life and work of our weather observers through pre-recorded video and observer biographies, culminating in a live virtual connection. Students interview our scientists during these “chats” with prepared and off-the-cuff questions, resulting in students learning about who “scientists” are, what motivates them, and what pathways they’ve taken to a unique career in meteorology.
To learn more about this project, visit our WeatherX page.
We look forward to sharing our work and connecting with colleagues again at AMS’ next Annual Meeting, scheduled for Jan. 8-12, 2023 in Denver.





Brian Fitzgerald, Director of Science & Education

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