Home>News Center>Life

Scientists size up 'Mother Goddess' mountain
(China Daily)
Updated: 2005-05-04 05:57

China has built an automatic meteorological observation station at an elevation of 6,500 metres on Mount Qomolangma - or Mount Everest as it is also known - the world's highest mountain.

The station, located at a narrow pass on Dongrongbu Glacier, will be used mainly for observing the condition of energy and materials conversion at high elevation areas, said Jing Zhefan, an associate professor in charge of the project.

Jing defined energy conversion as observation of atmospheric temperatures, pressure, humidity, solar radiation intensity, heat flux and atmosphere turbulence, and the conversion of materials as the collection of air and aerosol samples and snowfall and snow pit samples.

"By observing the data, we'll learn about the processes of energy and material conversion on Qomolangma and be able to provide an accurate explanation of the paleoclimate at the core of the snow-ice world," said Jing.

In 2001, Chinese scientists set up a meteorological observation centre on the same spot. The equipment and the data stored in it, however, have disappeared. To ensure the normal operation of the station, some members of the team will remain until October, with data collected each April.

The building of the meteorological observation centre is part of China's fourth comprehensive scientific survey of Qomolangma - which in Tibetan means the mountain of the Mother Goddess.

Bad weather

Efforts by Chinese scientists to re-survey its heights encountered a greater challenge than expected, as they repeatedly had to postpone their ascent to the top to take measurements due to bad weather.

They planned to climb on May 5, but were forced to delay.

"Judging the current weather conditions, the climb is not likely to happen until after May 15," said Yue Jianli, an official with the State Bureau of Surveying and Mapping, and one of the team working on the programme.

Meteorological observations show that moderate to fresh gales have been reported around the base camp area since the beginning of April, with winds of Force 12 reported. Nighttime temperatures have been averaging minus three degrees, with the lowest -7 centigrade, and daytime highs of no more than six to seven degrees.

A snow storm at 6,500 metres above sea level on April 19 lowered the nighttime temperature to -20 degrees.

But despite the bad weather, preparations for the climb are proceeding, said Yue.

Base camp has been set at 5,300 metres above sea level and scientists and mountaineers who will attempt the summit are currently adapting to the elevation, low temperatures and lack of oxygen at high altitudes. Another camp has been established at 8,300 metres.

Instruments and equipment have been transported to six surveying sites, located between 5,200 and 6,300 metres, from where surveyors can see the top of the mountain.

Once a survey beacon is erected on the peak, simultaneous measurements of its height will be taken from each of the six sites using the beacon as a reference point.

This will be the second measurement China has made of the mountain. The first, in 1975, measured the peak at 8,848.13 metres.

The snow-covered mountain top is believed to have grown 10 millimetres per year since then, and the environment of Qomolangma has changed a lot in past three decades.

The survey of the peak's height is a part of China's fourth large-scale comprehensive scientific survey of Qomolangma, jointly organized by the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the State Bureau of Surveying and Mapping and the regional government of the Tibet Autonomous Region.

Scientists will also conduct research into the impact of global warming on glaciers and make observations of atmospheric physics and chemistry, bio-diversity and environmental changes in the Himalayan region, said Zhang Jiangqi, a researcher with the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

A monument will be erected at the mountain's base camp to mark the measuring team's efforts. The final result is expected to be announced in August.

The first recorded measurement of the mountain was reportedly in 1852 by an Indian mathematician and surveyor Radhanath Sikdar who estimated it was 29,000 feet high. At the time in the West it was known simply as Peak XV.

A decade or so later it got the name Mount Everest after the then British Surveyor General, Sir George Everest.

German model-actress Claudia Schiffer promotes new film
Miss Jumbo Queen contest in Thailand
Tom Cruise has a new girlfriend
  Today's Top News     Top Life News

In one-China frame talks may cover 'any issue'



US-China summits' high stakes



China to assure Europe on textile exports



Iraqi gov't sworn in amid wave of violence



Iran vows to pursue peaceful nuke plans



Latest mine accident kills 20


  Crowd jams street to see Paris Hilton in Toronto
  Scientists size up 'Mother Goddess' mountain
  Brain screening answers questions and helps allay fears
  Prosecutors show calls by Jackson aides
  French cabaret tradition hits Chinese stage
  Star-crossed lovers move through time in Pakistan
  Go to Another Section  
  Story Tools  
  1/3 Chinese youth condone premarital sex