It is a commonly known fact that the world’s highest peak – Mount Everest – has the current official height of 8,848 m (29,029 ft). But the 2015 year, with the deadly earthquake and severe avalanches, has altered the landscape across the Himalayan. Now, the scientific community wonders whether the actual height of Mount Everest has changed.
Back in 1856, the Great Trigonometrical Survey of India established the first published height of Mount Everest – 8,840 m (29,002 ft). The current official height of 8,848 m (29,029 ft) as recognized by China and Nepal was established by a 1955 Indian survey and subsequently confirmed by a Chinese survey in 1975.
But, a 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck Nepal on 25 April 2015 killing the thousands of people, triggering an avalanche from Pumori into the basecamp on Mount Everest and effectively shutting down the Mount Everest climbing season.
Satellite data at the time suggested the impact of the quake reduced Everest’s peak. But, the satellite measurements are not accurate enough to definitively determine the change. Scientists estimate the peak may have shrunk by approximately 1 meter after the massive Nepal earthquake.
“Two years have passed since the major Nepal earthquake and there’s doubt in the scientific community that it did in fact shrink”, said India’s surveyor general Swarna Subba Rao.
A five-member team of scientists will re-measure the height of Mount Everest at winter’s end. The team will use instruments on the ground, GPS and triangulation to determine the current height of a mountain. These measurements can provide accuracy with an approximate error od 0.0003%.
The expedition will last several months and the data will be officially declared after two weeks after the end od the measurements. Forbes announces that expedition is estimated to cost $800,000 for a team of 30+ people.
However, the possible shrink of Mount Everest will not cause the peak to lose its claim to the tallest mountain in the world. The world’s second highest peak, K2 of Mount Everest is 28,251 feet (8,611) high.