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Efforts to Re-measure Mt. Qomolangma Hampered by Weather

Chinese scientists' efforts to re-survey the height of Mount Qomolangma (Mount Everest), the highest peak in the world, is posing a greater challenge than expected, as they repeatedly have had to postpone their climb to the top of the peak to take measurements due to bad weather.

The scientists expected to climb to the mountain on May 5, but the date had been postponed to May 10. "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, participating in the measurement program on Wednesday.

Meteorological observations show that moderate to fresh gales have been reported in the mountain's base camp area since the beginning of April, with the momentary wind power reaching force 12. Temperature at the base camp averaged three degrees minus in the night, with the lowest down to seven degrees minus. The temperature hovers around six to seven degrees Celsius during the daytime. A snowfall in a mountain 6,500 meters above sea level on April 19 lowered the nighttime temperature to minus 20 degrees Celcius.

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

A base camp has been set up at a site 5,300 meters above the sea level and scientists and mountaineers who are going to climb the mountain are now adapting to the elevation, low temperatures and lack of oxygen at 6,500 meters. Another camp has been established at 8,300 meters.

Instruments and equipment have been transported to six surveying sites, from 5,200 to 6,300 meters above sea level, where surveyors can see the top of Mount Qomolangma. Once a surveyor' beacon is erected at the top of the peak, measurement of height of Qomolangma will be conducted simultaneously at the six surveying sites and at the top of the peak.

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

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

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, 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 measurement efforts. The final result is expected to be announced in August.

Peoples Daily

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