Current Projects

Solid-to-Liquid Ratio Analysis 

This research explores the relationship between the solid-to-liquid ratio (SLR) and parameters such as temperature, wind speed, wind direction, seasonality, and the amount of solid and liquid precipitation accumulation. This analysis will provide insight into the complex atmospheric environment, forecasting, and atmospheric dynamics of Mount Washington.

Support Needed: Further exploration of the interaction between SLR and different meteorological parameters for 2023 is still necessary, and the Mount Washington Observatory’s vast dataset allows for the expansion of this project to include data collected from the 1930s to the present. This would allow for the establishment of a comprehensive climatology.

Rain-on-Snow Research

The scope of this study aims to accurately establish and quantify climate trends related to extreme weather events occurring on the summit of Mount Washington for the period of September 1989 through May of 2020. This study will further investigate the changing seasonality around the winter on Mount Washington and ROS events that detrimentally impact winter snow cover to determine if winters are warming and if this is impacting the summit snowpack as well as shifting the seasonality. Determining how winter is impacting Mount Washington will increase the understanding of how climate change is impacting the region in addition to adding to the knowledge of how the fragile high alpine zones will be impacted globally by a continued changing climate.

Support Needed: The implications of increased frequency of flooding could be significant for those communities and ecosystems on and below Mount Washington. The December 2023 event produced one of the largest runoff responses ever seen by each of three adjacent stream gauges, with rainfall totals noticeably lower than the majority of events with comparable runoff. Further work examining the factors contributing to this data would greatly benefit understanding of ROS flooding in the Northeast.

Lapse Rate Research

Using the temperature data recorded at weather stations located at near-constant elevation intervals up the Mount Washington Auto Road, this research seeks to uncover the daily, monthly, seasonal, and overall average near-surface lapse rates on Mount Washington, to determine both their mean values and their variability. This analysis will provide insight into the temperature variation with elevation around the White Mountains and greater New England region, as well as allow for more precise and accurate hydrological and ecological modeling.

Support Needed: The initial portion of this research project is wrapping up, with a full write-up of the project to be submitted to a scientific journal for review in the coming months.

Next Generation Pitot Anemometer

The Next Generation Pitot Static Tube Anemometer, Pitot20 (internally named because it first became an operational instrument in 2020), resulted from a multi-year collaboration between the Mount Washington Observatory (MWO), General Electric, and the University of Massachusetts-Lowell Engineering Program. The goals included developing a new anemometer for the summit to improve on the current Pitot19 model, simplifying sensor design allowing for easier removal and installation during maintenance and calibration, and exploring the possibility of shortening the length of tubes needed to run from the pitot tube to the pressure transducers located in the weather room. Lastly, MWO set out to explore an upgraded heating system to reduce the accretion of ice during the worst of conditions on the summit.

Support Needed: With more than one year of side-by-side comparison between the Pitot20 and Pitot19 anemometers, a full data analysis is needed to certify this critical new instrument for official reporting purposes. Funding is needed to support researcher time to analyze this data and prepare a manuscript for publication.

Historic Visibility Data Exploration and Analysis

The goal of this project is to explore manual, hourly prevailing visibility data reported from the summit of Mount Washington, NH from roughly 1942 to present for the existence of significant trends or anomalies. If present, significant temporal patterns in visibility will serve as the baseline for future studies of the relationship between visibility and air quality. A public document summarizing the methods and results is available and being shared to external researchers for application to other historic datasets.

Support Needed: Once completed, this foundational work will continue MWO’s focus on exploring, analyzing and publicizing information about all aspects of Mount Washington’s unique climate. Funding is needed to support additional researchers, research support staff and interns to extend this new-found knowledge and help us investigate possible linkages between visibility, air quality, human health, and our changing climate.

Temperature Database Project

Mean Annual Temperature 1935-2020

Mean Annual Temperature 1935-2020

Project goals include producing homogenous hourly and daily maximum and minimum temperature data records from January 1935 to present. MWO will use these records to derive several official research-grade analyses/products, such as a mean annual temperature time series and trends, to support our research and education programs. We are also working to produce a document allowing external researchers the ability to apply the methods developed here to other historic datasets. Finally, we plan to create a digital archive of the paper records by scanning or photographing them.

Support Needed: None required at this time. Work is continuing on a volunteer basis to revise a summary report.

Mount Washington Regional Mesonet Technical Overview

Since early in its history the Observatory has operated and maintained equipment for research, testing and environmental monitoring purposes at its facility on the summit. Since the mid-2000s, we have been developing and deploying a wide network of remote sites that monitor environmental data. This “Mesonet” includes a vertical transect of the atmosphere at 1,000-foot intervals along the Mt. Washington Auto Road and an assortment of high elevation sites at ski area summits, Appalachian Mountain Club huts and other facilities. These remote sites help gather environmental data across the complex terrain of the White Mountains and provide vast opportunities for research and instrument hosting and testing.

Support Needed: Maintenance of this broad network of sensors is both costly and time-consuming. Support is constantly needed to fund calibration and replacement of sensors, solar panels, batteries, data loggers, radios and webcams to ensure a steady flow of high-quality data from these sites.

Monitoring the Intensity of Cosmic Rays From Outer Space

The general nature and purpose of this long-term experiment is to measure variations in the number or intensity of cosmic ray particles reaching Earth. Originally conducted from 1955-2006 under the tutelage of the late Dr. Jack Lockwood and Dr. Jim Ryan of the University of New Hampshire’s Physics Department, it has now been taken over by UNH’s Space Science Center within the Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans, and Space.

Support Needed:
This project is being led by the University of New Hampshire, with support from MWO.

Student Research

Undergraduate and graduate students learn through support of original research projects conducted at the Mount Washington Observatory as a function of the Observatory’s Internship Program. Click here for more information about the Internship Program or here to learn about recent past internship research projects.

Contact: Jay Broccolo, Director of Weather Operations (603) 356-2137, ext. 231