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Research & Product Testing

Mount Washington’s location at the convergence of three major storm tracks, combined with its elevation and unique topography, create extraordinary weather extremes unlike anywhere on Earth. It’s the ideal natural laboratory to learn about weather, climate, atmosphere and biosphere.

Mount Washington Observatory’s weather station, located at the 6,288-foot summit of Mount Washington, is one of only a handful of permanently-staffed mountaintop stations in the world, and the only one of its kind in the Western Hemisphere. The Observatory’s robust technological infrastructure, skilled staff scientists and full-service logistical support make it a truly remarkable research destination.

Striving to advance understanding of atmospheric and climatic processes and their impacts on Northeastern U.S. ecosystems, Mount Washington Observatory conducts collaborative research that encompasses multiple scientific disciplines. The Observatory also conducts testing for consumer and industrial products, and serves as an integral partner in the deployment, testing and monitoring of scientific equipment.

Partnership with Plymouth State University

In 2012, Mount Washington Observatory and Plymouth State University (PSU) formed a partnership to advance the Observatory's research mission and cultivate collaborative research with PSU faculty and students. The cornerstone of this partnership is a PhD-level staff position, serving jointly as Director of Research at Mount Washington Observatory and Research Assistant Professor at PSU. Dr. Eric Kelsey was hired to fill this role, and is working to expand research on the weather, climate, and ecology of the White Mountains and beyond.

CAPABILITIES

Weather and Climate
Mount Washington Observatory has a long, proven track record in climate research. We maintain one of North America’s longest continuous climate records, containing hourly observations dating back to the mid-1930s. We also operate a network of remote instrument stations throughout the Presidential Range. This unique data set and comprehensive array of surface data make Mount Washington Observatory ideally suited to host or collaborate on many kinds of climate research.

Air Quality
Mount Washington Observatory is located atop the tallest mountain in the northeastern United States, in free air, and far from urban centers. This remote, rural, high altitude site is well situated for the observation of mid-tropospheric chemistry, the study of regional air quality and long-range transport of aersosols. The Observatory has a history of participation in air quality research, such as being an air quality monitoring site in the University of New Hampshire's AIRMAP project for twelve years.

Instrument Siting and Product Testing
Mount Washington’s elevation and extraordinary conditions provide the ultimate challenge—if a product can handle Mount Washington, it can handle anything. Manufacturers of industrial products for aerospace, aviation, healthcare, military and scientific applications have chosen Mount Washington Observatory as a trusted partner in product testing. The Observatory has also tested consumer products ranging from windows and ice scrapers, to tents, outerwear and even skin cream.

Learn more about our robust siting and testing capabilities on our product testing page.

DISCIPLINES

Mount Washington Observatory's research has spanned a wide range of topics, including:

  • Cloud physics
  • Mountain meteorology
  • Cosmic ray flux
  • Rime and glaze ice formation
  • Boundary layer dynamics
  • High elevation climate change
  • Atmospheric chemistry
  • Tree-line elevation maintenance
  • Alpine and subalpine flora and fauna
  • Numerical weather prediction

PARTNERS

Current and recent collaborators include:

  • NASA
  • Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory (CRREL)
  • University of New Hampshire
  • Plymouth State University
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
  • United States National Forest Service
  • Appalachian Mountain Club
  • National Weather Service (NWS)
  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

SELECTED RESEARCH PAPERS

Bliss, L. C., 1963: Alpine plant communities of the Presidential Range, New Hampshire. Ecology, 44, 678.697.

Claffey, K., and C. Reyerson, 1994: Measuring Wind Speed in Freezing Rain. In Focus 2000: Wind, Ice, and Fog, The Proceedings of the Fourth Annual Mount Washington Observatory Symposium, North Conway, NH: Mount Washington Observatory.

Conrad, V., 1941: Structure of the weather on Mount Washington. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., 22, 297.298.

DeBell, L.J., M. Vozzella, R.W. Talbot, and J.E. Dibb, 2004: Asian dust storm events of spring 2001 and associated pollutants observed in New England by the Atmospheric Investigation, Regional Modeling, Analysis and Prediction (AIRMAP) monitoring network. J. Geophys. Res., 109, D01304, doi:10.1029/2003JD003733.

DeBell, L.J., R.W. Talbot, J.E. Dibb, J.W. Munger, E.V. Fischer, and S.E. Frolking, 2004: A major regional air pollution event in the northeastern United States caused by extensive forest fires in Quebec, Canada. J. Geophys. Res., 109, D19305, doi:10.1029/2004JD004840.

Falconer, R.E., 1947: Use of Pitot Tube to Compensate for Pressure Deficiency Caused by Wind on Mount Washington, New Hampshire. Transactions, American Geophysical Union, 28(2), 385-397.

Falconer, R.E., 1944: Consideration in the use of Mount Washington pressure-data. Transactions, American Geophysical Union, 25, 470-476.

Fischer, E., and R. Talbot, 2005: Regional NO3- events in the northeastern United States related to seasonal climate anomalies. Geophys. Res. Lett., 32, L16804, doi:10.1029/2005GL023490.

Fischer, E.V., R.W. Talbot, J.E. Dibb, J.L. Moody, and G.L. Murray, 2004: Summertime ozone at Mount Washington: Meteorological controls at the highest peak in the northeast, J. Geophys. Res., 109, D24303, doi:10.1029/2004JD004841.

Flaccus, E., 1959: Revegetation of landslides in the White Mountains. Ecology, 40, 692-703.

Gillman, J., B. D.Agostino, T. Markle, N. Witcraft, J. Koermer, and B. Keim, 2002: Regional synoptic climatology study of the Mount Washington area. Extended Abstracts, 13th Symp. on Global Change and Climate Variations, Orlando, FL, Amer. Meteor. Soc., CD-ROM, P1.1.

Grant, A.N., A.A.P. Pszenny, and E.V. Fischer, 2005: The 1935.2003 air temperature record from the summit of Mount Washington, New Hampshire. J. Clim., 18, 4445.4453.

Grant, A.N., A.A.P. Pszenny, and E.V. Fischer, 2008: Corrigendum. J. Clim., 22, 1065.1066.

Griggs, R.F., 1942: Indications to climate changes from the timber-line of Mount Washington. Science, 95, 515-519.

Hand, I.F., J.H. Conover, and W.A. Boland, 1943: Simultaneous pyrheliometric measurements at different heights on Mount Washington, N.H. Mon. Wea. Rev., 71, 65-69.

Haurwitz, B., 1937: Total solar and sky radiation on Mount Washington, N.H. Mon. Wea. Rev., 65, 97-99.

Henson, R. and Anatta, 1999: Mt. Washington's wild weather sheds light on aircraft icing. UCAR Quarterly, Summer 1999, 24, Univ. Corp. for Atmos. Res., 1-2.

Hildebrandt, M., and R. Balling, 1998: Climate variability at the world.s windiest weather station. Windswept Quart. Bull. Mt. Washington Obs., 39, 34.40.

Keim, B.D., and L.D. Meeker, 2000: A manual synoptic classification for the east coast of New England, U.S.A. International Journal of Climatology.

Kimball, K. D., and Keifer, M. B., 1988: Climatic comparisons with tree-ring data from montane forests: are the climatic data appropriate. Canadian Journal of Forest Research, 18, 385.390.

Kimball, K.D., and D.M. Weihrauch, 2000: Alpine vegetation communities and the alpine-treeline ecotone boundary in New England as biomonitors for climate change. In McCool, S. F., Cole, D. N., Borrie, W. T., and O.Loughlin, J. (eds.), Wilderness Science in a Time of Change Conference.Volume 3: Wilderness as a Place for Scientific Inquiry. Ogden, Utah: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, 93.101.

Leak, W.B., and R.E. Graber, 1974: Forest vegetation related to elevation in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Durham, NH: USDA Forest Service, Research Paper NE-299.

Lockwood, J.A., and H.E. Yingst, 1956: Correlation of meteorological parameters with cosmic-ray neutron intensities. The Physical Review, 104, 1718-1722.

McKenzie, A.A., 1935: The Mount Washington Observatory, 1934-35. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., 16, 90-93.

Pagliuca, S., 1934: Mount Washington Observatory, N.H., Progress Report. Mon. Wea. Rev., 62, 16-18.

Pagliuca, S., 1934: The January 1934 cold wave on Mount Washington, N.H. Mon. Wea. Rev., 62, 57-58.

Reiners, W.A., and G.E. Lang, 1979: Vegetational patterns and processes in the balsam fir zone, White Mountains, New Hampshire. Ecology, 60, 403.417.

Richardson, A.D., E.G. Denny, T.G. Siccama, and X. Lee, 2003: Evidence for a rising cloud ceiling in eastern North America. J. Clim., 16, 2093.2098.

Richardson, A.D., X. Lee, and A.J. Friedland, 2004: Microclimatology of treeline spruce-fir forests in mountains of the northeastern United States. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology, 125, 53.66.

Ryerson, C.C., 1990: Atmospheric icing rates with elevation on northern New England mountains, U.S.A. Arctic and Alpine Research, 22, 90.97.

Ryerson, C., M. Politovich, K. Rancourt, G. Koenig, R. Reinking, and D. Miller, 2000: Overview of Mt. Washington Icing Sensors Project. Reston, VA: American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, (ERDC/CRREL MP-00-5455), p. 10.

Sardinero, S., 2000: Classification and ordination of plant communities along an altitudinal gradient on the Presidential Range, New Hampshire, USA. Plant Ecology, 148, 81.103.

Seidel, T. M., A.N. Grant, A.A.P. Pszenny, and D.J. Allman, 2007: Dew point and humidity measurements and trends at the summit of Mount Washington, N.H. 1935.2004. J. Clim., 20, 5629.5641.

Slater, J.F., J.E. Dibb, B.D. Keim, R.W. Talbot, 2002: Light extinction by fine atmospheric particles in the White Mountains region of New Hampshire and its relationship to air mass transport. Science of The Total Environment, 287, 221-239, 10.1016/S0048-9697(01)00981-0.

Spear, R.W., 1981: The history of high-elevation vegetation in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Ph.D. Thesis, University of Minnesota. 215 pp.

Spear, R.W., 1989: Late-Quaternary history of high-elevation vegetation in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Ecological Monographs, 59, 125.151.

Tiffney, W.N. 1972: Snow cover and the Diapensia lapponica habitat in the White Mountains, New Hampshire. Rhodora, 74, 358-377.

CONTACT

Dr. Eric Kelsey, Director of Research
(603) 535-2271

Email

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