Mount Everest gains a couple of feet seemingly overnight! At least, according to the new official measurement.
China and Nepal have argued for years about the exact height of Mount Everest. Now, officials from both countries concur that the Earth's highest mountain is 29,031.69 feet (8,848.86 meters) above sea level.
The most widely-accepted measurement before this new agreement came from India. Indian surveyors measured Everest to be 29,002 feet in 1856, then at 29,029 in 1955. Until now, 29,029 feet was the consensus—looks like Everest grew two feet officially!
It's not quite as simple as a physical change, though the mountain is moving. Tectonic plates continue to push it up, and earthquakes like in 2015 maybe even decreased the total height. Mostly, it's been a debate on paper.
The National Geographic Society measured it to be 29,035 feet. Then, in 2005, a Chinese survey said Everest was 29,017 feet.
Two Everest Expeditions
It wasn't until humongous cooperation between China and Nepal that culminated this year in a new consensus. Chinese authorities and the Nepali Survey Department sent one team each to brave the ascent to the summit, called Sagarmatha in Nepal and Chomolungma in Tibet. Each team took GPS receivers. After months of analyzing the results of those excursions, the two nations revealed the new number via simultaneous broadcast.
Sagarmatha Height Joint Announcement Ceremony, courtesy Survey Department Nepal.
In a letter read during the press conference, Nepali President Bidya Devi Bhandari addressed Chinese President Xi Jinping:
"It is a historic day today. Indeed, completing this important task with our own human resources and technical capacity is a significant achievement. While sharing this happy moment, I extend my sincere congratulations to the governments and peoples of both Nepal and China.
While it's hard to know how Mount Everest feels about the proceedings, or what has really changed for the mountain since its last consensus survey in 1955, the real achievement is found in the cooperation of the two nations to make sure everyone is on the same page about the world's most high-profile place.
Have you ever felt the urge to climb Everest? Or do those extra two feet make it seem a little too daunting now? Comment below!