Mount Everest Has Grown By Almost A Metre
Mount Everest is almost a metre taller than previously recorded, scientists have announced.
A new measurement of the highest point on Earth puts the mountain at 0.86m taller than was initially thought, resolving a years-long dispute between Nepal and China over Everest’s true height.
Until now, scientists from the two countries disagreed over whether to include the snow cap on the top of Everest in its official measurement, leading to China officially recording the mountain as four metres lower than Nepal did.
But in the true spirit of scientific collaboration, it looks like they’ve finally agreed on a new benchmark, with the countries jointly announcing a new official height of 8,848.86m.
Mount Everest sits on the border of Nepal and China, with hundreds of climbers scaling the mountain from both sides each year. The decision to release a joint measurement was made last year following a visit from Chinese Premier Xi Jinping to the Nepalese capital, Kathmandu.
It isn’t the first time the mountain’s height has been changed, and it probably won’t be the last either. Tectonic plate shifts mean that Everest grows by about half a metre every century, although experts say that major earthquakes can also cause the mountain to shrink.
Some geologists believe that a 2015 earthquake in Nepal may have been responsible for changing Everest’s snow cap, with a number of other Himalayan peaks found to have shrunk by almost a metre following the 7.8 quake. Nepal said the earthquake was a ‘major reason’ behind the attempt to make a new measurement.
Teams of Nepalese and Chinese surveyors used satellite data and trigonometry to calculate Everest’s elevation, and also sent groups up to the mountain’s peak.
The expedition marks the first time Nepal has calculated its own measurement of Everest, with China having conducted two previous measurements of the mountain in the past 50 years. The Chinese team reached the summit of Everest in May 2020, making them the only group to have climbed Everest this year after the mountain was closed as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
Damodar Dhakal, a spokesperson for Nepal’s department of survey, told BBC News that it was a historic achievement for the country, saying, ‘Before this, we had never done the measurement ourselves. Now that we have a young, technical team [who could also go to the Everest summit], we could do it on our own’.
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