Is Mount Everest Melting?

  • 18 Jul 2019

Researchers and Nepal are currently facing an uncomfortable truth... Mount Everest, the world's tallest mountain may have shrunk.

Many had began to suspect it in 2015, when Nepal was hit with a strong 7.8-magnitude earthquake.

After the earthquake, satellite evidence had showed that the mountain was one inch shorter than it used to be.

Before the disastrous earthquake, there was a different concern in regards to the mountain. The researchers had feared that the mountain will look completely different by the end of the century as its glaciers will be melting dramatically due to climate change.

According to the researchers from the European Geosciences Union, between 70 percent and 99 percent of the glaciers around Mount Everest will be gone by the year 2100.

Joseph Shea from the International Center for Integrated Mountain Development said that glaciers in the region are highly sensitive to changes in temperature and that even continued snowing will not be enough to keep them from melting.

When the glaciers around Mount Everest start to melt, severe flooding will take place - the melted snow will flow into the Kosi River, resulting in an overflow that will cause the low-lying areas around the region to be flooded.

But after the earthquake, there is a new concern on whether the mountain's official height should be amended. Officially, Mount Everest's height is 29,029 feet or about 8,848 meters, a number recorded by an Indian survey in 1954.

Now, with the latest concern, Nepal's Survey Department has appointed four climbers to trek the treacherous mountain to get its official measurement.

"We are sending a team because there were questions regarding the height of Everest after the earthquake," Susheel Dangol, expedition coordinator from the Survey Department explained.

Commissioned in 2017, the four surveyors spent the last two years preparing themselves – selecting their methodology, collecting ground readings, and training for the extreme conditions they're going to encounter on their expedition.

This will be the first time Nepal will conduct its own survey on the mountain. Nepal wants not only to get the official reading but also to settle an old argument it has had with China. China seems to think that the mountain is actually 13 feet shorter than the official reading made in 1954.

An American team also surveyed Mount Everest in 1999 using GPS technology. Their findings show that the mountain is taller than previous records, giving the peak another 6.6 feet (2 meters) of height.

The four surveyors taking the journey to the top of the mountain will face plenty of extreme challenges on their way to the summit. According to the Himalayan Database, there have been more than 280 deaths on Mount Everest. BBC reports that the most common cause of death from 2010 to 2018 is avalanche accidents (41.6 percent), followed by acute mountain sickness (16.6 percent), exhaustion (12.5 percent), and falling (6.9 percent).

The summit of the Mount Everest was first reached in 1953 by Tenzing Norgay, a Sherpa mountaineer, and Edmund Hillary.

So far, the most times the summit has been reached is 21, a record held by Nepal's Apa Sherpa. People of all ages have yearned to climb Mount Everest but the oldest to actually do so was Yuichiro Miura from Japan, at 80 years old.

However, the team is confident they can work through the challenges.

"It will not be easy to work in that terrain, but we are confident our mission will be successful," said Khim Lal Gautam, the expedition leader and chief surveyor.

Source: Tech Times
Photo source: Outside Magazine

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