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China launched the 2020 Mount Everest elevation measurement

Published May 07, 2020
Updated May 08, 2020

On the occasion of 65th anniversary of establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Nepal China launches 2020 Mount Everest Elevation Measurement expedition

An article titled “The 65th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Nepal, the 2020 Mount Everest elevation measurement was officially launched”, published in a Chinese website on April 30 is given below (verbatim translation):

[On the afternoon of April 30, the first press conference of the 2020 Mount Everest elevation measurement was held at the Everest Base Camp, and the 2020 Mount Everest elevation measurement was officially launched.

During Chinese President Xi Jinping’s state visit to Nepal from October 12 to 13, 2019, the two countries issued the ‘Joint Statement of the People’s Republic of China and Nepal’, in which it was stated: Considering that Everest is an eternal symbol of friendship between China and Nepal, both sides are willing to promote cooperation in climate change and ecological environment protection. The two sides will jointly announce the elevation of Mount Everest and carry out scientific research cooperation.

In order to implement the ‘Joint Statement of the People’s Republic of China and Nepal’, the Ministry of Natural Resources, together with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the State Sports General Administration and the Tibet Autonomous Region Government, organized the 2020 Mount Everest elevation survey work.

The Everest elevation measurement coincides with the 65th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Nepal. Since the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1955, regardless of changes in the international situation, Sino-Nepal relations have been sustained, stable, and healthy development. The height measurement of Mount Everest is a new measure to develop the friendship between the two countries.

This year is also the 60th anniversary of the first human climb to the summit of Mount Everest from the northern slope, and the 45th anniversary of China’s first accurate surveying and announcement of elevation of the Mount Everest. This time, it is of great historical significance to carry out the Mount Everest elevation measurement.

In order to promote the smooth launch of the Everest elevation survey and ensure the scientificity of the survey and the accuracy of the elevation results, the Ministry of Natural Resources has organized the elite forces of the China Academy of Surveying and Mapping, the Shaanxi Surveying and Mapping Geographic Information Bureau and the China Geological Survey Bureau, etc to compile the design book and implementation plan of the Mount Everest elevation measurement technology.

Experts in surveying and mapping technology and management led by Academician Chen Junyong and Academician Yang Yuanxi conducted a rigorous review and checking of many traditional and modern surveying and mapping techniques such as ‘comprehensive use of GNSS satellite surveying, precision levelling, photoelectric ranging, snow depth radar surveying, gravity surveying, astronomical surveying, satellite remote sensing, the refinement of the geoid, technical route to accurately determine the height of Mount Everest’, and has been fully affirmed.

The focus of the Everest elevation survey work is to achieve technological innovation and breakthroughs in the following five aspects: first, relying on the Beidou satellite navigation system to carry out survey work; second, using the domestic surveying and mapping instruments and equipment fully shoulder the measurement task; third,improve the measurement accuracy with the application of aviation gravity technology; fourth, use real-scene 3D technology to visually display the natural resources of Mount Everest; and fifth, survey and mapping team members reach the peak and obtain a reliable measurement data.

According to reports, this time the results of the Everest elevation measurement can be used in the field of geodynamic tectonic plate motion and other researches. Accurate data on peak snow depth, weather and wind speed will provide first-hand information for studies on glacier monitoring and ecological environment protection.

The results of GNSS surveying, levelling, and gravity surveying combined with the previous relevant data can not only accurately analyse the impact of current crustal movement changes, but also provide accurate gravity anomaly data for the subsequent establishment of a geoid-like model. Gravity measurement results can be used for the establishment of the regional earth gravity field model in the Everest region and the study of glacial changes, earthquakes, crustal movement and other issues.

At present, the Mt. Everest elevation measurement has done a lot of preparatory work. A large group of 53 surveying and mapping members from State Bureau of Surveying and Mapping, since March 2, have overcome the numerous difficulties such as environment, bad weather and the impact of novel coronavirus epidemic in Mount Everest and surrounding areas, and have successively carried out surveying work such as levelling, gravity, GNSS, astronomy.

Completed first-level levelling of 480 kilometres, second-level levelling of 240 kilometres, encrypted gravity measurement of 190 points, absolute gravity measurement of 1 point, astronomical measurement of 1 point, local GNSS control network measurement of 60 points, and plate motion monitoring network of 21 points.Deployed 2 temporary reference stations for continuous operation of satellite navigation and positioning.

Completed basic surveying work such as surveying, burying, and elevation transfer of 6 Everest elevation measurement intersections. The remaining few basic surveying work is steadily advancing. The surveying mountaineering team composed of a large group of State Bureau of Surveying and Mapping and the Chinese mountaineering team has entered the Everest base camp after mountaineering training. Currently they are carrying out mountaineering adaptability training and high-altitude area measurement skill training. It is planned to carry out summit survey in May.

The core of Mount Everest elevation measurement is the accurate determination of height of Mount Everest, which is also a comprehensive surveying and mapping project representing the development level of national surveying and mapping technology. Since the founding of New China, the elevation measurement of Everest in China has undergone a transition from traditional geodetic technology to comprehensive modern geodetic technology.

Each Everest survey reflects the continuous progress of China’s surveying and mapping technology and highlights the highest level of China’s surveying and mapping technology. Surveying and mapping workers in China have carried out 6 large-scale surveys and scientific surveys on Mount Everest, and have successfully measured and published the elevation of Mount Everest twice in 1975 and 2005. In 1975, the elevation of Mount Everest was measured.

For the first time in China, the measurement beacon stood tall and upright on the top of Mount Everest, and the elevation of Mount Everest was accurately measured at 8884.13 meters. In 2005, the Everest elevation re-measurement used the traditional geodetic and satellite measurement combined technology. For the first time, the ice and snow thickness were measured by the ice and snow radar in the Everest peak measurement.

After rigorous calculation, the elevation of rock surface of Mount Everest summit was obtained at an altitude of 8844.43 meters. Measuring Mount Everest in different ways in different periods, and measuring the height of Mount Everest multiple times, reflected the human spirit of seeking knowledge and exploring nature, and have become an important symbol of human understanding and knowing of the earth.]