Past Projects

Stress-Testing Anemometers for FAA
Mount Washington Observatory’s history of supporting aviation safety continued during 2020-21 as our extreme weather lab was utilized to test wind sensors for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which operates meteorological equipment at Alaska’s Juneau International Airport.

Snowpack Energy Monitoring with Low Cost Instrumentation
Creating affordable weather instrumentation that can be deployed out in the field to monitor the snow depth, the amount of water in the snow pack, as well as snow pack temperature. This is critical in determining flooding potential when the snow pack melts or if there is a rain event on top of a deep snow pack. In the future, more rain-on-snow events will be more frequent and having real time field observations will be critical for forecasting flooding in the White Mountain Region.

Boundary Layer Exposure on Mount Washington
Mountain ecosystems provide sustaining water, natural resources, and numerous economic benefits for more than half the world’s population. Climate change threatens the stability of these mountain ecosystems and the economies they support. In New England, Mount Washington and Mount Mansfield are warming more slowly than the lower elevations (Fig. 1). This project hypothesizes that Mount Washington’s variable exposure to two distinct horizontal layers in the atmosphere, the boundary layer and the overlying free troposphere, drives a significant portion of this elevation-dependent warming.

When this cooling process occurs along mountain slopes, the cooling air becomes colder and denser that the air away from the slopes, which causes the cold air to sink downslope. The dense cold air flows downslope in streams (called katabatic winds) following the steepest slopes. When the cold air flows into a relatively flat area (a mountain or river valley, for example), the streams of cold air slow down. This causes the valley to fill with cold air, much like streams filling a lake.

The primary mission of this project was to develop a detailed understanding of climate variability and the source of persistent air pollutants in New England. The goal was to identify the causes of climate variability, predict air quality changes as an addition to daily weather forecasts, and to demonstrate new forecasting technologies.

Assessing Icing Conditions in the High Elevations of the Northeast
Predicting the severity of icing conditions for aviation interests has been a challenge for decades, and increased interest in wind power in the Northeast brings a new motivation to improve our understanding of how icing conditions occur and to develop new techniques to forecast icing. A three year project, in collaboration with the Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory, NASA Glenn Research Center, Plymouth State University, and NASA Langley, aims to observe and improve predictions of icing conditions in the Northeast.

Climate Change and Air Pollutant Impacts to New England’s Rare Alpine Zone
Observatory researchers, in collaboration with the Appalachian Mountain Club and Plymouth State University, are assessing climate and air pollutant trends and their influence on New England’s high-elevation alpine ecosystems. Made possible by a grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, this work builds on the Observatory’s unique hourly climate record and the deployment of the Mount Washington Regional Mesonet, as well as the AMC’s long-term air quality and alpine ecosystem monitoring.

This LIDAR wind measurement system measured winds from the ground up to 40,000 feet by using a laser beam and sophisticated optical techniques. New England Air Quality Study 2002 The primary goal of this project was an improved understanding of the atmospheric processes that control the production and distribution of air pollutants in the New England region.

Polarstern Cruise
Former Chief Scientist Alex Pszenny and former Staff Scientist Andy Wall participated in a research cruise aboard the German vessel Polarstern to gain a better understanding of the global significance of halogen chemistry in marine air.

Snow Gauge Project
Two electronic devices for measuring “liquid equivalent precipitation rate” were tested on the summit as one element of the FAA’s Aviation Weather Research Program to increase understanding of atmospheric processes that cause the development of hazardous weather.

Visibility Meter
A Vaisala model FD-12P visibility and present weather detector was tested on the summit for use in an Auto Surface Observation System.

Mount Washington Icing Sensor Project
This project evaluated a variety technologies for sensing icing conditions in aviation applications.

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