How Mount Everest got 3 feet higher, endorsed by both Nepal and China

Mount Everest got 3 feet higher

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In News:

  • Nepal and China have jointly certified the height of Mount Everest to be 8848.86 meters (29,031 feet) above sea level, which is 86 cm higher than what has been recognized since 1954.

News Summary: Mount Everest got 3 feet higher

  • Nepal and China have come to a mutual understanding on the height of Mount Everest, ending a long standing difference of opinion.
  • They have jointly certified the height of Mount Everest to be 8848.86 meters (29,031 feet) above sea level, which is 86 cm higher than what has been recognized since 1954.

Methodology used:

The Survey of India, 1954:
  • Theodolites and chains were used as instruments for this measurement.
Note: A theodolite is a precision optical instrument used for measuring angles in horizontal and vertical planes.
The Current Survey:
  • A Global Positioning System (GPS) to receive signals along with ground penetrating radars to measure the depth of snow were used at the summit.
  • Modern laser theodolites were placed at eight sites with the view of the Everest Summit to measure its elevation at Sunrise.
  • China used its Beidou Global Navigation Satellite System.

About: Mount Everest

  • Mount Everest is located in the Mahalangur Himal sub range of the Himalayas and its summit is directly between Tibet and Nepal.
Mount Everest got 3 feet higher
  • It is the world’s highest mountain above sea level, and is named after Sir George Everest, the Surveyor General of India in the 1860s.
  • In 1856, mathematician Radhanath Sickdhar found that Everest is the highest mountain in the world above sea level while working for a survey.
  • Sir Edmund Hillary of New Zealand and Nepalese Sherpa Tenzing Norgay were the first to reach the summit in 1953. 


Debate about Everest height:
  • The actual height of Mount Everest has been the subject of much debate.
  • The debate regarding its height included various aspects from the methodology to the surveyor to whether it is only the ‘rock height’ that has to be taken into consideration or whether the ‘snow’ cladding is also to be accounted for.
  • Till now, Nepal claimed the height of Everest to be 29,028 feet or 8848 meters.
    • This height was determined by the Survey of India in 1954.
    • The elevation of 8,848 m came to be accepted in all references worldwide — except by China.
  • On the other hand, China claimed the height to be 29,017 feet or 8844 meters.
  • Meanwhile, a third estimate in 1999 at 29,035 feet or 8850 meters was released by the National Geographic society, US but it did not gain worldwide acceptance.

Reasons for new measurement of Everest’s height:

  • The officially accepted estimation of height worldwide was based on the Survey of India of 1954.
  • Till recently, Nepal’s Survey Department had not considered the idea of measuring Mt Everest.
  • However, a devastating earthquake in Nepal in 2015 led to speculations that it might have affected the height of Mount Everest.
  • Mount Everest was formed and rose from the tectonic collision of Indian plate with Eurasian plate millions of years ago.
  • It is believed that the impact still continues with some estimates put the rising of the mountain at roughly 10 millimeters every year.
  • However, tectonic phenomena like an earthquake can cause disruptions in this.
  • Consequently, Nepal’s survey department decided to measure the mountain on its own, with technical assistance from New Zealand and it completed its mission last year.
  • Meanwhile, the Chinese side conducted its own survey and completed it separately earlier this year.  
  • The two sides then signed a MoU to jointly make their results public.

Also Read: How much of India’s population lives with disabilities?

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