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.
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.
Cold-Air Pools in Mountain Valleys
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.
Monitoring the Intensity of Cosmic Rays From Outer Space
This long-term neutron measurement project was the longest running research project at the Observatory, conducted
from 1955-2006 under the tutelage of the late Dr. Jack Lockwood and Dr. Jim Ryan of UNH's Physics Department,
Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans, and Space.
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 and since the late 1990s at a site in Bartlett, N.H.
Since the mid-2000s, the Observatory has been developing and deploying a wide network of remote sites that monitor
environmental data. This new "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.
In partnership with Plymouth State University (PSU), undergraduate and graduate students learn through original
research projects coordinated by jointly-appointed Mount Washington Observatory (MWO) Lead Research Scientist and
PSU Research Assistant Professor Dr. Eric Kelsey.
Dr. Eric Kelsey, Lead Research Scientist