Towering problem: Nepal seeks international help to measure Everest

China has often contested the present height. It says the world’s highest mountain peak is four metre shorter

By Dinsa Sachan
Published: Saturday 03 March 2012

When next-generation kids memorise the height of Mount Everest, the figure may be different from what has been taught till now.

The purported height of Mount Everest–8,848 metres–which we read in text books has long been contested by China. The country argues that Everest–the highest mountain peak on the planet –is four metres shorter than the current height. According to them, the figure should be measured to rock height and snow cover should not be included in the measurement.

Nepal’s counter-argument is that the snow cover should be taken into account, as is the case with all mountain peaks around the world. The matter has become a bone of contention between the two countries, and flares up in meetings on border issues.

The height of Mount Everest was first measured in 1856, but has been controversial ever since. In July last year, Nepal launched a bid to re-measure the height of the Everest to settle the debate for once and all. Now it has requested the international community to financially help it, as it does not have all the equipment required to complete the task which may take two-years. The new measurement method involves use of Global Positioning System (GPS) technology.

“The height of Mount Everest is a contentious issue because it’s the highest mountain peak in the work. Disagreements among countries arise because different methods of measurements lead to different results,” says Naresh Pant, professor at the department of geology in Delhi University.
He adds that the geology of the Himalaya, the highest mountain range in the world, complicates the issue. “Heights are measured with respect to sea-level. The Himalayan range is a young mountain chain unlike the Aravallis, which have settled and there’s no upward or downward movement. The Himalaya was formed by the collision of the Indian plate and the Eurasian plate. The two plates are still moving, causing the Himalayas to rise. But these changes are very small,” he adds.

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