Blog Archives

Climbing Mt. Everest with GPS

The height of Mt. Everest, the tallest mountain in the world, is under heated debate. Though standing more than 200 m above the next tallest rival, China and Nepal have been arguing the exact height of Everest for many years. Now, Nepal is seeking the expertise of scientists and GPS technology to settle the question once and for all.

Krishna Raj, the director-general of the Himalayan Survey Department, reports that they have measured from sea level to base camp, but from base camp to the top remains unmeasured by accurate and scientific means. Therefore, Nepal has appealed to the international community for the funding and technologically advanced equipment needed to obtain a measurement that is globally accepted as the definitive height of this prestigious peak.

The first published height of Mt. Everest was in 1856 by the Great Trigonometric Survey of British India. Using the science of math, the peak was calculated to be 8840 m above sea level. Today’s accepted height is not far from that figure; India’s 1954 survey of 8848 m above sea level is still Nepal’s claim to fame. However, in 2005 a Chinese survey put the height at 8844.43 m. The Chinese claim that their figure is far more accurate since they used modern technology and took the measurement to the tip of the actual rock surface rather than include the ice cap and snow. Interestingly, China did measure the ice cap and snow, though fluctuant, to be at 3.5 m, the difference between the two countries’ disputed claims.

Raj believes that Sherpas trained in the science of GPS technology could settle the debate, though he warns that the equipment would need to withstand temperatures of -70 degrees Celsius. In 1999, the United States did complete a survey of Everest using the scientific data collected from a global positioning system. Their measurement was 8850 m above sea level; another discrepancy. However, this can be accounted for by the newness of the technology and the lack of knowledge of Mt. Everest and its surroundings, which is why Nepal hopes to draw on the advances of scientists around the world to get to the bottom of all this, or rather the top of it.

Although it may take two years to determine a final measurement based on GPS data, Nepal is hopeful that the findings will put an end to the dispute with China.

Advertisements

Climbing Mt. Everest with GPS

The height of Mt. Everest, the tallest mountain in the world, is under heated debate. Though standing more than 200 m above the next tallest rival, China and Nepal have been arguing the exact height of Everest for many years. Now, Nepal is seeking the expertise of scientists and GPS technology to settle the question once and for all.

Krishna Raj, the director-general of the Himalayan Survey Department, reports that they have measured from sea level to base camp, but from base camp to the top remains unmeasured by accurate and scientific means. Therefore, Nepal has appealed to the international community for the funding and technologically advanced equipment needed to obtain a measurement that is globally accepted as the definitive height of this prestigious peak.

The first published height of Mt. Everest was in 1856 by the Great Trigonometric Survey of British India. Using the science of math, the peak was calculated to be 8840 m above sea level. Today’s accepted height is not far from that figure; India’s 1954 survey of 8848 m above sea level is still Nepal’s claim to fame. However, in 2005 a Chinese survey put the height at 8844.43 m. The Chinese claim that their figure is far more accurate since they used modern technology and took the measurement to the tip of the actual rock surface rather than include the ice cap and snow. Interestingly, China did measure the ice cap and snow, though fluctuant, to be at 3.5 m, the difference between the two countries’ disputed claims.

Raj believes that Sherpas trained in the science of GPS technology could settle the debate, though he warns that the equipment would need to withstand temperatures of -70 degrees Celsius. In 1999, the United States did complete a survey of Everest using the scientific data collected from a global positioning system. Their measurement was 8850 m above sea level; another discrepancy. However, this can be accounted for by the newness of the technology and the lack of knowledge of Mt. Everest and its surroundings, which is why Nepal hopes to draw on the advances of scientists around the world to get to the bottom of all this, or rather the top of it.

Although it may take two years to determine a final measurement based on GPS data, Nepal is hopeful that the findings will put an end to the dispute with China.