The Kathmandu Post, 2 Aug 2018
The government of New Zealand has extended technical expertise to Nepal for re-measuring the height of Mt Everest—the world’s highest peak.
The New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade is supporting Dr Chris Pearson, a New Zealand geodesist who is spending four weeks working with the Survey Department of Nepal to assist them in planning the project and processing data from its early phases, the New Delhi-based Embassy of New Zealand has said in statement.
After many geologists argued that the April 2015 quake may have shrunk the mountain by about 3 centimetres, the Survey Department launched a two-year survey of re-measuring Mt Everest this year which also coincides with the 65th anniversary of the first successful ascent of the peak by Sir Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay.
The current officially recognised height of Mount Everest is 8,848 metres. The project led by the Survey Department of Nepal involves the use of both conventional surveying techniques similar to those used by George Everest (who surveyed Mount Everest in the 19th century) and a modern global positioning system receiver that will be taken to the top of the mountain to measure its height, the statement added. The project is expected to be completed by mid-2019.
“The legacy of this historic achievement on 29 May 1953 continues to underpin New Zealand’s close and warm relationship with Nepal, as well as support its further growth. It is therefore a proud moment for us at the New Zealand Embassy to support this important initiative that will help us ascertain the correct height of this renowned geological landmark,” says Joanna Kempkers, New Zealand’s Ambassador to Nepal. Lisa Choegyal, New Zealand’s Honorary Consul to Nepal also expressed her pleasure at being able to provide targeted technical support to Nepal following the earthquakes.
“It is an honour for New Zealand to be assisting the Survey Department and the Government of Nepal with this important and high-profile task of re-measuring Mt Everest, the highest mountain in the world and an iconic tourism attraction for Nepal,” she said in the statement.
In addition to Dr Pearson’s contribution, Trimble NZ, a US-based firm that manufactures advanced positioning solutions, has donated a complimentary licence of their GPS processing software for use in analysing the data collected during the project. They also plan to lend two state of the art GPS receivers for use during the summit measurement.
Prior to this project, Dr Pearson led a successful post-earthquake survey mapping project along with Nepal’s Survey Department in 2015 to help the country rebuild after the two massive earthquakes earlier that year. The earthquakes caused the ground to move by about 2 metres, sending co-ordinates in geographic information system and geodetic databases “well off’’ their actual locations. He worked with the department to develop mathematical models to correct co-ordinates and survey measurements for the quake-induced ground movement. This work was also financially supported by New Zealand.
Thanking the New Zealand government for the help, Deputy Director General at the Survey Department Niraj Manandhar said, “We are absolutely delighted to have New Zealand’s help and Dr Chris Pearson’s expertise has been very valuable to our department.”