Current Projects

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 goal of the project was to develop a new operational anemometer for the summit that improved upon the current Pitot19 model and also addressed a few other needs and wants. The first of these was a more simplified design that would allow for easier removal and installation for maintenance and calibration. The second was to explore the possibility of shortening the length of tubes needed to run from the pitot tube itself to the pressure transducers located in the weather room. Lastly, MWO wanted to explore an upgraded heating system to reduce the accretion of ice during the worst of conditions on the summit. 
Visibility Database Project
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 reported prevailing 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 will be produced and shared to external researchers for application to other historic datasets. 
Temperature Database Project
To produce homogenous hourly and daily maximum and minimum temperature data records for January 1935 to present from which MWO can derive several official research-grade analyses/products, such as a mean annual temperature time series and trend, to support MWO research and education programs. To produce a document allowing external researchers the ability to apply the methods developed here to other historic datasets. And, to create a digital archive of the paper records by scanning or photographing them. 

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. 

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.

Mount Washington Regional Mesonet
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.

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.


Brian Fitzgerald, Director of Science & Education
603-356-2137 ext. 225


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