Mount Washington Observatory looks ahead to another 90 years
MT. WASHINGTON, N.H. (WCAX) - The Mount Washington Observatory is celebrating 90 years in 2022, and observers are ready for what 2023 has to bring.
The observatory began with the mission of weather research, which continues today. Teams of three observers switch every week, living on the top of the mountain and taking observations every hour, day and night.
That means going outside during harsh winter weather.
“Today we continue in that mission. We’re designing pitot tubes that can measure wind speeds on Mount Everest. We are hosting researchers looking at ecology, biology, snowpack, changes in the mountains, all sorts of topics. So really, you know, in the beginning, our mission was very tightly focused. We’ve broadened a little bit to think about how we can host even more folks for research and how we can even do more in the educational realm to really make the mountain accessible for schoolchildren and for families and for others,” said Drew Bush, the executive director of the observatory.
The observatory maintains what is now one of North America’s longest continuous climate records. For a long time, forecasts in higher summits didn’t seem to be changing as much as in other areas of the globe, but Bush says that’s no longer true.
“We’re starting to see signs of things like snowpack that has more melting and that during the wintertime, things that are our changes as well with heavy rain, events on snow, having snow, events on springtime, budding with plants. So those are some of the kinds of changes that scientists are seeing in places like the White Mountains as well as on the summit of Mount Washington,” said Bush.
Bush says 60% of the funding for the observatory comes from donations since it is a nonprofit. The team is currently doing their end-of-year campaign, where they raise most of the money to continue their work.
And while much of their work is serious, a furry feline brings some fun to their work. Nimbus the cat lives at the top of the mountain. He joined the team in 2021 after Marty the Maine coon died.
Bush says he thinks there will always be a cat at the top of the mountain and that Nimbus is a key part of the team.
“He helps to keep the observers who are up there each week, you know, feeling happy, you know, having a connection to the animal world. I think it’s really important when you’re you know, working at a place like the summit of Mount Washington that’s a bit isolated,” said Bush.
Bush said Nimbus is quite friendly and that the New Hampshire state parks crew up there likes to love on him as well.
Nimbus is frequently featured on the observatory’s Facebook page.
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