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New height agreed for Mount Everest

AP, December 9, 2020 7:00PM Kids News

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A Nepalese Survey Department team member conducts a gravity survey during Mount Everest height measurements. Picture: AFP/Survey Department, Nepal media_cameraA Nepalese Survey Department team member conducts a gravity survey during Mount Everest height measurements. Picture: AFP/Survey Department, Nepal

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China and Nepal jointly announced a new official height for Mount Everest on Tuesday, ending a disagreement between the two nations.

The new height of the world’s highest peak is 8848.86m, which is slightly more than Nepal’s previous measurement and about 4m higher than China’s.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and his Nepalese counterpart*, Pradeep Gyawali, simultaneously* pressed buttons during a virtual conference and the new height flashed on the screen.

media_cameraStaff members of Nepal’s Survey Department attend the virtual announcement of the height of Mount Everest in Kathmandu, Nepal on December 8, 2020. Picture: AFP

The height of Everest, which is on the border between China and Nepal, was agreed on after surveyors from Nepal scaled the peak in 2019 and a Chinese team did the same in 2020.

There had been debate over the actual height of the peak and concern that it might have shrunk after a major earthquake in 2015 that triggered an avalanche on Everest.

There was no doubt that Everest would remain the highest peak because the second highest, Mount K2, is only 8611m tall.

Everest’s height was first determined by a British team around 1856 as 8842m.

But the most accepted height has been 8848m, which was determined by the Survey of India in 1954.

In 1999, a National Geographic Society team using GPS technology came up with a height of 8850m. A Chinese team in 2005 said it was 8844.43m because it did not include the snow cap.

A Nepal government team of climbers and surveyors scaled Everest in May 2019 and installed GPS and satellite equipment to measure the peak and snow depth on the summit.

media_cameraA team member of Nepal’s Survey Department places a Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) receiver after drilling into a rock during Mount Everest height measurements. Picture: AFP/Survey Department, Nepal

Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Nepal later that year and the leaders of the two countries decided that they should agree on a height.

A survey team from China then conducted measurements in the spring of 2020 while all other expeditions were cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Nepal’s climbing community welcomed the end of confusion over the mountain’s height.

“This is a milestone* in mountaineering history which will finally end the debate over the height and now the world will have one number,” said Santa Bir Lama, president of the Nepal Mountaineering Association.

media_cameraMount Everest on February 7, 2020 as seen from a plane 140km northeast of Kathmandu, Nepal. Picture: AFP

China’s official Xinhua News Agency quoted Xi as saying the two sides are committed to jointly protecting the environment around Everest and co-operating in scientific research.

For China, the announcement appeared to be as much about politics as geography. China has drawn Nepal ever closer into its orbit with investments in its economy and the building of highways, dams, airports and other infrastructure in the impoverished* nation.

That appears to serve China’s interests in reducing the influence of rival India, with which it shares a disputed border, and Nepal’s role as a destination for refugee Tibetans.

China and Nepal will establish an “even closer community of a shared future to enrich* the countries and their peoples,” Xinhua quoted Xi as saying.

GLOSSARY

  • counterpart: equivalent person in another organisation or country
  • simultaneously: at the same time
  • milestone: important point in a process
  • impoverished: poor
  • enrich: make richer (in terms of standard of living, culture and other measures)

EXTRA READING

Climbers to remeasure height of Everest

Mountaineer smashes world record by seven years

Definition of a kilogram about to change

How we tell the time just got more accurate

QUICK QUIZ

  1. What is the news in this story?
  2. Which two countries made the announcement?
  3. What is the new official height?
  4. Where is Mount Everest?
  5. Why haven’t regular climbers been attempting to summit this year?

LISTEN TO THIS STORY

CLASSROOM ACTIVITIES
1. Everest Figures
Turn on your maths brain to answer the following calculations regarding the history of the actual height of Mount Everest. (Answers at the bottom of the page. Don’t look until you’ve finished!)

  1. What was China’s measurement of Mount Everest?
  2. What is the difference between the most recent measurement of Mount Everest and Mount K2?
  3. What is the difference between the original height of Mount Everest measured in 1856 and the new height?
  4. How many years between now and when the first height was taken in 1856?
  5. Why is the correct and agreed upon measurement of Mount Everest so important? Who does it affect?

Time: allow 15 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: Mathematics

2. Extension
A Nepal government team scaled the mountain and installed GPS and satellite equipment to measure the peak and snow depth on the summit in 2019. Who will use this information and for what purposes?

Time: allow 10 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Geography, Critical and creative thinking

VCOP ACTIVITY
Grammar and VCOP
The glossary of terms helps you to understand and learn the ambitious vocabulary being used in the article. Can you use the words outlined in the glossary to create new sentences? Challenge yourself to include other VCOP (vocabulary, connectives, openers and punctuation) elements in your sentence/s. Have another look through the article, can you find any other Wow Words not outlined in the glossary?

HAVE YOUR SAY: What would you like and not like about climbing Everest?
No one-word answers. Use full sentences to explain your thinking. No comments will be published until approved by editors.

Answers:

  1. 8844.86m
  2. 237.86m
  3. 6.86m
  4. 164 years
  5. Look for answers such as mountaineers, air traffic controllers, hikers, meteorologists etc

Extra Reading in mathematics