Tallest gets taller: Mount Everest gets new height!
The world’s highest mountain got a bit taller this week when the Foreign Ministers of Nepal and China jointly certified the elevation of Mount Everest at 8,848.86 metres above sea level — 86 cm higher than what was recognised since 1954.
The earlier height
The height recognised till now was 8,844 m. This was determined by the Survey of India in 1954, using instruments like theodolites and chains. The elevation of 8,848 m came to be accepted in all references worldwide — except by China. In 1999, a US team put the elevation at nearly 8,850 m. This survey was sponsored by the National Geographic Society, US. The Society uses this measurement, while the rest of the world, except China, has accepted 8,848 m so far. Mount Everest rises from the border between Nepal and China. Mountaineers climb it from both sides of Nepal and China.
Nepal’s new survey
Till 2015, the whole world had accepted Survey of India’s data. But after the devastating earthquake of April 2015, many scientists debated whether it had affected the height of the mountain. The Nepal government decided to measure the mountain on its own. New Zealand, which shares a bond with Nepal over the mountain, provided technical assistance. In May 2019, the New Zealand government provided Nepal’s Survey Department (Napi Bibhag) with a Global Navigation Satellite, and trained technicians. Christopher Pearson, a scientist from University of Otago, travelled to Nepal on a special assignment. Nepal had already completed its assessment before China jumped into the fray.
Chinese authorities had said previously Mount Everest should be measured to its rock height, while Nepalese authorities argued the snow on top of the summit should be included. Chinese authorities had earlier conducted the survey in 2005 also. And though China earlier differed from the Nepalese version of the height, it ultimately accepted the measurements by Nepalese team.
Did you know
Sir Edmund Hillary, the first climber on the peak along with Nepal’s Tenzing Norgay in May 1953, worked as the mountain’s undeclared brand ambassador to the world.