October 9, 2005

China says survey shows Everest shorter

BEIJING (Reuters) - China now thinks Everest, the world's
highest peak, is about 3.7 meters shorter than its own past
estimates after conducting a new survey of the mountain this
year, state media reported on Sunday.

Mount Everest stood 8,844.43 meters above sea level, with a
margin of error of about 0.21 meters, Chen Bangzhu, Director
General of the State Bureau of Surveying and Mapping, told a
news conference.

Chinese mountaineers and researchers climbed to the top of
Mount Everest in May to determine whether the world's tallest
mountain was still growing.

Chen told reporters on state television the updated figure
did not mean the mountain had shrunk over time.

"The data is so far the most detailed and precise among
(those from) all previous surveys domestically and
internationally," the official was cited by China Central
Television as saying.

"We cannot arrive at the conclusion now that the Everest
has become shorter, because there have been problems ... of
surveying technology with previous measurements."

In 1975, Chinese scientists measured the height of Everest
at 8,848.13 meters (29,029 feet, 3 inches), a few centimeters
more than an Indian survey had found in the 1950s.

Then in 1999, a U.S. team measured the mountain -- known to
Chinese as Qomolangma and straddling the border between China
and Nepal -- at 8,850 meters.

Growing or not, Everest is changing in other ways: its
glaciers are shrinking on the Chinese side faster than ever
because of global warming, official media have reported.