China aims to build world’s highest automatic weather station on Mt Everest

China aims to build world’s highest automatic weather station on Mt Everest

Everest sits on Nepal’s border with Tibet, an autonomous region which China claims as its own.

Chinese scientists are working on setting up a meteorological monitoring station on Mount Everest, the world’s highest peak at over 8,848 metres in the Himalayas, Chinese state news agency Xinhua reported.

Everest sits on Nepal’s border with Tibet, an autonomous region which China claims as its own.

According to the Institute of Tibetan Plateau Research (ITP), Chinese Academy of Sciences, eight elevation gradient meteorological stations will be set up on the mountain, known as Mount Qomolangma in China.

“Our mission is to set up the world’s highest automatic weather station, which fills the gap of meteorological observation of highest areas not only in China but also in the world,” Zhao Huabiao, a researcher with ITP, said.

He said the station would be powered by solar energy and storage batteries which could work for “several years under normal conditions”. The station will then automatically record data through sensors and then send them via satellite.

The eight stations will collect the wind speed, wind direction data and relative humidity on the north side of Mount Everest.

“The elevation gradient meteorological station system is of great significance for monitoring the melting glaciers and mountain snow at high altitudes,” said Zhao.

The Institute of Tibetan Plateau Research said the world’s highest weather station currently is at an altitude of 8,430 metres, set up by British and US scientists on the south side of the mountain in 2019.

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The challenges

Xinhua said the expedition to the world’s tallest point is part of China’s second scientific research survey on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, which started in 2017.

The engineers in charge of setting up the station are yet to find a location on the summit and are waiting for the “perfect weather” for mountaineering.

“At an altitude of over 7,000 meters, only professional mountaineers can reach the summit. So the scientists have to cooperate with mountaineers to complete the mission. Equipment weighing some 50 kg will be dismantled and distributed to mountaineers, each of whom will carry no more than 7 kg,” Zhao said.

The researcher called it more of a physical challenge instead of a psychological one as the expedition needs to be completed on foot.

Disputes over Mount Everest

In December 2020, China and Nepal had finally put to rest a decade-long dispute over how tall Mount Everest is.

The world’s highest peak stands at 8848.86 meters, officials from both countries announced on 8 December, 2020.

In May of the same year, another controversy was stoked after Chinese state-run cable TV news service, China Global Television Network (CGTN) tweeted a picture claiming that Mount Everest was located in China’s Tibet. It later revised the tweet saying the summit is located on the Nepal-China border.

According to a 1960 border dispute agreement between China and Nepal, Mount Everest is divided into northern and southern parts. The former comes under Chinese administration while the latter is under Kathmandu, said experts, quoted by news agency ANI.

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