What is Mount Everest height?
Being the tallest peak of the world, even small change in the height of the Mount Everest grabs a major attention to the peoples. The surveyors and geologists who are keen to study the movement of the tectonic plates, wants to measure the height of the mount Everest frequently.
About 40 million years ago two tectonic plates, Indian and Eurasian were collided to form Nepal and at the same time Indian plate merges down to push the Eurasian plate upward and the highest peak of the world the Mount Everest was formed. If you want to know about how Nepal was Formed, we have already made a video on that topic you can watch it on our YouTube channel as well.
History of surveys to calculate the Mount Everest Height
The whole story begins from the early 18th century.
Ok let’s go to the flashback
In 1802, the British East India Company in India started the project named “the great Trigonometric survey of India” to measure the height, location, and names of mountains. Starting from the south of India, they moved northward using the giant theodolite weighing about 500kg. It was so heavy that they require about 12 men to carry such a huge theodolite. With enormous effort, they finally reached at Himalayan foot by the 1830s.
However Nepal didn’t allow Britishers to enter Nepal, as a result, the Britishers were forced to do observations from terai. The Terai region was however difficult for conducting a survey because there was uncertain torrential rains and malaria in terai. When three survey officers died from malaria They had to retire from the survey.
Back then in 1847 British resumed the project again and began the detailed observation of Himalayan peaks from observation stations up to 240 km distant.
Before then mount Kanchenjunga was considered the highest peak in the world but In November 1847, the great surveyor of that time Andrew Waugh has made several observation from “Sawaj pore” station and found out that there is a peak behind the mount Kanchenjunga which is about 230 km away and might be taller than mount Kanchanjunga.
He called it as a peak ‘b’, the observations indicated that peak ‘b’ was higher than the Kanchenjunga.
In 1849 Andrew Waugh sent James Nicolson to calculate the height of the peak ‘b’. But James Nicolson failed to consider the errors like light refraction, in his observation. Due to which his calculations gave a highly distorted height of 9200m for peak b. However, it was sure from the calculations that Peak ‘b’ was higher than that of Kanchenjunga.
Later all the peaks were designated based on roman numerals, with Kanchenjunga named as peak IX and peak ‘b’ now became peak XV.
In 1854 Waugh spend almost 2 years working on nicolson data. After dealing with all the error causing factors like:
- Light of refraction
- Barometric Pressure
- And temperature over the vast distances
In 1856 he finally declared peak 15 as the highest peak of the world with a height of 8840m and height of Kanchenjunga to be 8582m.
Even though it wasn’t a correct height but the peak 15 was able to get its fame of being highest peak of the world.
In 1865, despite having many local names like Chomolungma and Sagarmatha. Waugh named the peak 15 after his predecessor British surveyor Sir George Everest. Although Everest himself opposed the name suggested by Waugh but Waugh however proposed the name of peak 15 as Mount Everest arguing that there are many local names and it would be difficult to favor one name over all others.
Finally, after almost a century in 1955, the elevation of 8,848m was first determined by an Indian survey and is officially recognized by Nepal and China.
In 1960’s The Nepalese government coined the Nepali name Sagarmatha.
In 1975 the height was again reaffirmed by a chinese measurement and found out to be the similar height of 8848.13m.
In 1999, an American institute measured the Mount Everest height using GPS technology for the first time the history, and the height was found out to be 8850m.
However, this height was not officially recognized because experts found that there might be an error in that height due to the geoid of the earth.
Hence In October 2005, the Chinese academy of sciences and state bureau of surveying and mapping, after several months of measurement and calculation announced the Mount Everest height as 8844.43m. It was the height based on the highest point of rock and not the snow and ice cover. They also found that the snow ice depth was 3.5m.
With this height, China claimed that the actual height of the Mount Everest is 8844.43m because it is based on the highest point of the rock that is permanent. As the depth of ice covering frequently changes with the time hence 8848m cannot be taken as the actual height of the mount Everest.
But Nepal insisted that the snow covering is not so small to be ignored so the actual Mount Everest height should be taken from the snow covering. On the other hand, even the top surface of the rock is not permanent due to the consistent movement of the tectonic plates beneath the Mount Everest.
Finally in 2010 both Nepal and China agreed that the Mount Everest height is still 8848m and that the rock height of Everest is 8844m.
But after the devastating earthquake in April 2015 in Nepal, many geologists claimed that as the earthquake has caused the ground around the Everest to move by about 2m, this might have shrunk the height of Everest by nearly 3cm.
Despite several international institutions showing interest in measuring the Mount Everest height once again. Nepal, for the first time in history, decided to perform the survey on its own, because it was a part of a national pride project for Nepal.
However, during the 2017 visit of the president of China Xi jing ping, both Nepal and China recognize the mount Everest as an eternal symbol of friendship between them and they decided to jointly Announce the height of the mount Everest.
In this regard, Nepal has been measuring the height for almost two years from the southern part and china from the Northern part. From the latest news from the survey department of Nepal, the first phase of field visits and the collection of the data has been completed and the second phase of data calculation is going on. The second phase would normally take two months, but the impact of coronavirus had slowed down the process, therefore there is a delay in announcing the result.
According to the Survey Department, the department has spent almost 1.3 million dollars on this project. And a Swiss company has donated various scientific instruments and technology that worth almost Rs. 80 million so far to help in this project.
Conclusion: Mount Everest height
The New height of the Mount Everest will not only enhance the reputation of the tallest mountain of the world but also help geologists to study the relative movements of the tectonic plates with the change in its height, that might be helpful in predicting the future earthquakes.
As soon as Nepal and China will announce the new Mount Everest height. We will soon post the new article & a new Video regarding part Two of this Enormous but beautiful nature creation to give you full information about how the height of Mount Everest was calculated and of course, there would be some interesting facts about Mount Everest.
A full combo!!!