Amid speculation Nepal’s deadly 2015 earthquake might have caused Mount Everest to shrink, India is dispatching an expedition to the summit to confirm whether the world’s highest mountain is indeed still 8,848 metres above sea level.
Data from the European Space Agency’s Sentinel-1A radar satellite suggests Everest’s height fell by 2.8 centimetres.
Interferograms over Kathmandu, Nepal, generated from two Sentinel-1A radar scans on April 17 and April 29 April 2015 –before and after the April 25 earthquake — indicate vertical movement of up to 9m, with 3m of lateral movement in Kathmandu
The radar images reveal that some of the world’s tallest peaks — including Mount Everest — dropped by about 1 inch 2.5 cm, according to UNAVCO, a geoscience research consortium. That’s because the Earth’s crust relaxed in the areas north of Kathmandu after the earthquake released pent-up strain.
The Indian expedition is estimated to cost $800,000 for a team of 30-plus people to ascend the mountain. At the base camp, the team will install a signal receiver with a clear line of sight to the peak.
Scientists will measure signals sent and received from satellites for five weeks and measure the time it takes for the transmissions to bounce back and forth. Scientists will also employ triangulation, a traditional method of determining a mountain’s height, as a backup calculation.