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Oct 9, 2005

New Chinese Survey Lowers Everest's Height

China's surveying and mapping department reports that a new measurment of the world's tallest mountain shows it's elevation is actually 3.7 meters shorter than the measurement taken in 1971. According to a report by the Asian Tribune:
"The summit rock of Mount Qomolangmais (Mt Everest) is 8,844.43 meters above sea level," the China’s official news agency Xinhua reports.

"The newly measured height is 3.7 meters shorter than the measurement of 8,848.13 meters, a figure obtained during the previous measurement taken in 1971," says the report quoting Chen Bangzhu, director general of the China's State Bureau of Surveying and Mapping (SBSM).

SBSM has claimed that the measurement was undertaken using improved technology and it is more accurate. The margin of error is 0.21 meters and the ice and snow layer at the mountain summit is 3.5 meters in thickness.

The latest finding is based on measurements done by Chinese mountaineers who reached Everest summit in the afternoon of May 22, 2005.

"The measurements were conducted at the six control points by means of theodolites and laser rangers for 48 hours. Surveyors at the mountain summit measured the thickness of the ice and snow layers under the survey marker with radar altimeter," the report says.

Surveys in the past have come up with conflicting conclusions about the height of Mt Everest. The first measurement, conducted in 1856, put the height at 8,839 meters. In 1950, an Indian survey put the height at 8,848 meters. An American expedition that put a GPS unit atop the peak in 1998 concluded the height to be 8,850 meters.
China's surveyors attributed the differences to more modern methods. It is widely believed that Mt Everest is growing taller by 3 to 5 millimeters each year.