April 19, 2005

Chinese Team Begins to Remeasure Mount Everest

BEIJING, (AFP) -- A team of Chinese scientists began to remeasure Mount Everest for the first time in 20 years, checking theories that it is growing one centimeter (0.4 inch) annually, state media said.

Six scientists, four mountaineers and four Sherpa guides will use radar and global positioning equipment to re-survey the peak, the world's highest, said expedition head Zhang Jiangqi.

The official height of the mountain, straddling China's border with Nepal, is currently 8,848 meters (29,500 feet), but it is believed to be growing, Xinhua news agency said, citing the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS).

"The height and environment of Mt. Qomolangma (Everest) has changed greatly in the past 30 years and the re-survey of the region will help to understand the mountain's reaction to global climate change," said Zhang.

It is China's fourth such expedition following others in 1959, 1966 and 1975.

The scientists will also conduct research on the impact of global warming on glaciers and make observations of atmospheric physics and chemistry, bio-diversity, and environmental changes in the Himalayan region, Xinhua said.