How to measure a mountain : How Did They Measure the Height of Mt. Everest?
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How to measure a mountain : How Did They Measure the Height of Mt. Everest?

Did Mt. Everest shrink after Nepal’s massive 2015 earthquake? Has it lost a few meters of snow cover due to global warming? Is it getting taller due to shifting continental plates?

Know in this article How to measure a mountain : How Did They Measure the Height of Mt. Everest?

To clear up these frequently raised questions once and for all, the Nepalese government has kicked off the long and arduous mission of re-measuring the height of the world’s tallest peak.

Today, Everest’s height is widely recognized as 29,029 feet. But teams from around the world, including China, Denmark, Italy, India and the United States, have come up with other calculations, which have sometimes strayed a little bit higher, or a little bit lower, than that figure.

In 1856, Everest’s height was first calculated to be 8,840 meters (29,002 feet) above sea level by a team led by British surveyor Sir George Everest, the man whom the mountain was named after.

Italy, in 1992, lopped seven feet off the standard height, measuring it at 29,022 feet. In 1999, a measurement by American scientists pushed the peak a little higher, saying the mountain reached 29,035 feet. But , in 1955, the figure was adjusted by eight meters to 8,848 (29,028 feet), which has remained the official height to date.

How is the Altitude/Height of Mountains such as Mt. Everest being measured?

  • In the 19th century, the height of Everest was calculated by measuring the angles between the top of the mountain and points on the ground whose positions relative to the average height of the sea were already known.
  • Now the height will be calculated using a combination of geodetic data received from three mechanisms: leveling instrument, gravity meter and GPS.
  • GPS, or global positioning system, will play a crucial role. A signal receiver will be placed at every station, and the team will monitor signals sent between the receiver and satellites. They will then convert the time it takes the signals to arrive into a height measurement.
  • The ancient trigonometric method of triangulation to measure a mountain’s height (where the angles in a triangle formed by three survey control points) will not be used nowdays.

About Mt. Everest

Mount Everest is a peak in the Himalaya mountain range. It is located between Nepal and Tibet, an autonomous region of China. At 8,850 meters (29,035 feet), it is considered the tallest point on Earth. In the nineteenth century, the mountain was named after George Everest, a former Surveyor General of India. The Tibetan name is Chomolungma, which means “Mother Goddess of the World.” The Nepali name is Sagarmatha, which has various meanings.

The first ever recorded people to climb Everest were Edmund Hillary (a mountaineer from New Zealand) and his Tibetan guide Tenzing Norgay. They climbed the mountain in 1953 and hold the record together. The first records of Everest’s height came much earlier, in 1856. British surveyors recorded that Everest was the tallest peak in the world in their Great Trigonometrical Survey of the Indian subcontinent.

mt. everest

The Himalayan mountains have long been home to indigenous groups living in the valleys. The most famous of these are the Sherpa people. 

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