Measuring The Height Of Mount Everest : Short Wave : NPR

Mount Everest, the world’s tallest peak, seen from Syangboche in Nepal.

Prakash Mathema/AFP via Getty Images


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Prakash Mathema/AFP via Getty Images

Mount Everest, the world’s tallest peak, seen from Syangboche in Nepal.

Prakash Mathema/AFP via Getty Images

For three years, Roxanne Vogel trained, single-mindedly, with one number in mind: 29,029 feet.

She slept in a special tent, outside her home in California, that simulated high altitude. She summited dozens of peaks, on nearly every continent. And finally, last year, Vogel climbed up to 29,029 feet in the Himalayan mountains – the top of Mount Everest, the world’s highest peak.

“That’s the closest to heaven, or the closest to outer space, that I will ever get on this Earth,” Vogel, 35, told NPR. “It’s kind of life-changing, when you’re up there.”

Roxanne Vogel, a US mountaineer, atop Everest on May 22, 2019.

Courtesy of Roxanne Vogel


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Courtesy of Roxanne Vogel

Roxanne Vogel, a US mountaineer, atop Everest on May 22, 2019.

Courtesy of Roxanne Vogel

(And Roxanne didn’t just climb Everest; she set a speed record doing it. In May 2019, she traveled round-trip from her California home, to Everest’s peak and back, in just 14 days.)

But that number — 29,029 feet, from sea level to summit – to which Vogel dedicated so many years of training, may not be the actual height of Everest – or at least not for long. Because the mountain is changing.

Scientists say Everest is getting taller, over time, because of plate tectonics. As the Indian plate slips under the Eurasian plate, it uplifts the Himalayas. But earthquakes can reduce their height in an instant. After a 7.8-magnitude quake in 2015 killed thousands, including climbers on Everest, scientists suspect the mountain got shorter.

So China and Nepal, on whose borders Everest stands, decided it’s time to re-measure Everest.

This spring, with the climbing season canceled for COVID-19, China sent a survey team up to Everest’s summit, carrying GPS receivers. Last year, Nepal did the same. The two countries have been analyzing their findings for months, and are expected to release them any day now – possibly as early as this weekend. Calculating that number has evolved as our technology has, but the science remains complicated.

SIR GEORGE EVEREST, AND AN INDIAN MATHEMATICIAN

Back in the 19th century, when Sir George Everest – a Briton – was the Surveyor General of India, under colonial rule, they used trigonometry to measure mountains, with machines called theodolites. They’re optical instruments – sort of a cross between a telescope and a compass – that are used to measure angles between visible points on the horizon, and vertical planes. Municipal surveyors still use tripod versions of them.

Theodolites used in earlier expeditions to measure Everest.

Courtesy of B. Nagarajan and the Geodetic & Research Branch Museum, Survey of India


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Courtesy of B. Nagarajan and the Geodetic & Research Branch Museum, Survey of India

Theodolites used in

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Even Mount Everest, the World’s Tallest Peak, Can’t Escape Microplastics | Smart News

Two years ago, scientists reported that plastic pollution has found its way into the Mariana Trench, the darkest, deepest part of the ocean. Now, plastic has officially infiltrated the highest point above sea level: Mount Everest.

A study published November 20 in the journal One Earth reveals microplastics have been found up and down Mount Everest in staggering concentrations, reports Carolyn Wilke for Science News.

Last year, a team of 34 scientists embarked on an icy expedition up Mount Everest to better understand how climate change is affecting the highest point above sea level on Earth. (Mount Chimborazo in Ecuador is the furtherest point away from Earth’s core, and Mauna Kea is the tallest from base to peak.) As part of their research, they scooped up snow samples from various spots on the mountain and stored them in stainless steel jars to bring back to the lab for testing, reports Freddie Wilkinson for National Geographic. Upon analysis, the team found that all 11 of the samples they collected had tiny shreds of microplastics imbued in the snow, reports Science News.

“It really surprised me to find microplastics in every single snow sample I analyzed,” lead author Imogen Napper, a marine scientist at the University of Plymouth in England, says in a press release. “Mount Everest is somewhere I have always considered remote and pristine. To know we are polluting near the top of the tallest mountain is a real eye-opener.”

On average, the team detected around 30 bits of microplastics per quart of water. But they detected the highest concentration of microplastics—119 particles per quart of water—around Everest Base Camp, where climbers spend time resting, regrouping and acclimatizing to the high elevation, reports Damian Carrington for the Guardian.

Most of the fibers were polyester, but they also found significant traces of acrylic, polypropylene and nylon, reports National Geographic. Given the type of plastic and the fact that the highest concentrations were found around base camp, the fibers were most likely shed from the mountaineers’ clothing and equipment, such as insulated jackets, tents and ropes.

Microplastic fibers are so small that they are often invisible to the naked eye, but those tiny threads accumulate in massive numbers. A study published in February suggests that a two-pound synthetic jacket sheds 400 microplastic fibers for every 20 minutes of use. Over the course of a year, that jacket can shed a billion fibers, reports National Geographic.

Even the highest points of Everest weren’t spared from plastic pollution. Scientists found trace amounts of plastic at an elevation of 27,690 feet, just 1,345 feet shy of the mountain’s peak, reports Science News.

“These are the highest microplastics discovered so far,” Napper says. “While it sounds exciting, it means that microplastics have been discovered from the depths of the ocean all the way to the highest mountain on Earth. With microplastics so ubiquitous in our environment, it’s time to focus on informing appropriate environmental solutions. We need to protect and care

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Into Thicker Air and Onto Thinner Ice: How Climate Change Is Affecting Mount Everest | Science

Despite being the highest point on Earth, Mount Everest still can’t escape the effects of climate change. The only place that punctures the stratosphere—Everest’s peak reaches 29,035 feet above sea level—has an atmosphere so thin that it leaves mountaineers gasping for breath and glaciers so big that they stretch for miles on end. But both of those elements are changing fast. According to two new studies published today in iScience and One Earth, the air pressure near Everest’s summit is rising, making more oxygen available to breathe, and glaciers are melting at unprecedented rates, leading to more meltwater. The changes will impact climbers scaling the peak and local people who live in the shadow of it.

“Some of the lower Himalayan regions are fairly well studied, but a place like Everest is less studied because it’s just so hard to do work up there.” says Aurora Elmore, a climate scientist at the National Geographic Society. “There’s a big gap in the research, especially above 5,000 meters [16, 404 feet]—and Everest is 8,850 meters [29,035 feet]. That huge three kilometers of elevation has been under studied.”

To learn more about the highest reaches of the world, last year Elmore helped organize an expedition that sent a team of 34 scientists to Mount Everest to collect glaciological and meteorological data by installing the highest weather stations in the world. The expedition provided the data for both of the new studies, each of which Elmore co-authored.






At 8,430 meters above sea level, the high-altitude expedition team celebrates after setting up the world’s highest operating automated weather station during the National Geographic and Rolex Perpetual Planet Everest Expedition. For more info on the expedition, go to www.NatGeo.com/Everest.

(Photo by Mark Fisher, National Geographic)

In a study published in iScience, Elmore and a team of scientists set out to document how the atmospheric pressure on Everest has fluctuated since the 1970s. Each year, around 800 people attempt to summit Mount Everest, but after ascending 21,325 feet, the air gets so thin that most climbers turn to bottled oxygen to help them breathe. Only a handful of mountaineers attempt to climb it without supplemental oxygen. But that may get easier, as climate change is causing the air to slowly thicken, which means more oxygen is available at higher altitudes.

When temperature rises, molecules move faster. And when these molecules start to collide with each other, pressure increases. More pressure means more molecules, making more oxygen available to breathe, says lead author Tom Matthews, a climate scientist at Loughborough University in the U.K.

To analyze the changes in the atmosphere, Matthews and his team collected data using those weather stations they installed on the Everest expedition in 2019. They coupled their newly collected data with analyses produced by the European Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasting to reconstruct what the climate was like on Everest from 1979 to 2020.

Matthews and his team then used the climate data to model how the atmosphere around Everest

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Search resumes for university professor who went missing after hiking in Mount Rainier National Park

Rescue teams resumed their search on Sunday for a University of Washington professor who recently went missing during a hiking trip.



a man looking at the camera: Sam Dubal, an assistant professor at the University of Washington, was reported missing on October 12 after he didn't return from a hiking trip in Mount Rainier National Park.


© Courtesy Dena Dubal
Sam Dubal, an assistant professor at the University of Washington, was reported missing on October 12 after he didn’t return from a hiking trip in Mount Rainier National Park.

Sam Dubal, 33, left for Mount Rainier National Park on October 9 and was supposed to return the next day. He was reported missing on October 12 after he didn’t come home, and rescue teams have been trying to find him since.

For the first nine days, a group including park rangers, volunteer hikers and helicopter crews from the National Park Service and US Air Force searched for Dubal on the ground and by air. But poor weather on October 21 and 22 limited the abilities of rescuers to continue searching on the ground.

Dubal’s family started a petition on October 22 pleading that rescue teams continue searching for him aggressively for at least 72 more hours. The National Parks Service (NPS) announced on Sunday that teams had resumed the search for Dubal on the ground.

“We cannot bear the thought of an abandoned Sam during a survivable period along with improving weather and with the very best of search teams in charge,” his sister Dena Dubal told CNN in an email last week.

The area of Mount Rainier National Park where teams are searching for Dubal ranges from 2,000 to 5,000 feet in elevation and includes dense forests, rocky terrain, subalpine meadows and bodies of water, NPS said in a news release.

Recent winter storms have covered much of that area with snow, while temperatures have dropped below freezing even at lower elevations, NPS said. And just a day after Dubal set out for his hike, a storm washed out the crossing he would have used to traverse the Carbon River, according to the release.

Helicopter crews searching for remains on October 22 didn’t find a body, Dena Dubal said last week. At the time, she said the family believed there was a high chance Sam could still be alive given his hiking experience and the gear he was carrying.

Sam Dubal is 5′ 9″ and 155 pounds, has black hair and a short black beard and is possibly wearing a blue jacket.

Mt. Rainier sees record number of searches

There have been a record 60 searches at Mount Rainier National Park this year, NPS said in a news release.

One hiker is still missing, and one mountaineer who was found dead couldn’t be recovered because of dangerous icefall conditions, the agency said.

Numerous people are reported missing from national parks each year, although there’s no official count.

A 2018 article in Outside magazine reported that at least 1,600 people remain missing from public lands under mysterious circumstances, and the National Parks Service currently lists 23 people on its website who went missing from national parks and whose cases are unresolved.

Wandering off

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As Colorado wildfires burn, fears that climate change is causing “multi-level emergency” mount

The record-breaking forest fires burning in Colorado even as winter sets in are the latest sign climate warming is hitting the West hard, causing scientists to up their rhetoric and warn it is past time to move beyond planning and start aggressively acting.

“We’ve got to get motivated and stop turning the thermostat up. That is urgent, not a sci-fi thing. It is us turning up the thermostat. It does not readily turn down. The farther we turn it up, the worse it will get,” said Scott Denning, a Colorado State University atmospheric scientist.

Colorado and the West face more hot days and temperatures will shoot higher, scientists say. The rising heat is depleting water and drying soil across the Colorado River Basin and other river basins.  Last week, federal authorities classified 97% of Colorado in severe to exceptional drought.

Mega-fires including 2020’s Cameron Peak, East Troublesome and Pine Gulch are burning hotter and longer, with record destruction this year of 700,000 acres in Colorado and 6 million around the West. The smoke that exposed tens of millions of people to heavy particulates, health researchers say, will pose an even greater risk to public health in years to come.

“We’re choking ourselves to death,” Commerce City teacher Renee Chacon, 35, concluded after closing windows against the latest billowing gray-brown barrage. Her sons suffer headaches and she went to a doctor with lethargy.

Kathryn Scott, Special to The Denver Post

Renee Chacon, an indigenous activist and teacher, works from the office for the nonprofit Spirit of the Sun in Denver on Oct. 22, 2020.

Signs that the effects of climate warming are here and hurting Coloradans have kindled urgency within government agencies. Colorado Energy Office director Will Toor, at a recent climate forum, described “very significant impacts happening much earlier than expected.” Colorado Department of Natural Resources director Dan Gibbs, in an interview, said warming impacts over the next 30 years look “very troubling and, frankly, terrifying.”

Politicians including presidential candidate Joe Biden and Senate hopeful John Hickenlooper now refer to “an existential threat” and call for a shift off the fossil fuels they’ve supported in the past.

Yet efforts to help residents cope, and even draw down heat-trapping carbon dioxide in the atmosphere by re-greening farmland and cities, have barely begun. A Denver Post examination found a $4.2 billion backlog of forestry work identified by the Colorado State Forest Service as critical to protect people and property from fires.

Owners of destroyed homes still typically rebuild on site, despite increased erosion and flooding. More people moving into fire-prone forests between now and 2040 likely will triple the size of a high-risk interface zone, according to a forest service report scheduled for publication next month.

Farmers are left largely on their own as water vanishes and crops wilt. Local governments still approve urban expansion despite water supply strains.

“We are behind,” Gibbs acknowledged. “But we’re doing a lot of things in the right direction.”

Fire can be seen among the ...

Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post

Fire

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A university professor has been missing for nearly two weeks after hiking in Mount Rainier National Park

Sam Dubal, 33, left for Mount Rainier National Park on October 9 and was supposed to return the next day. He was reported missing on October 12 after he didn’t come home, and rescue teams have been trying to find him since.

For the first nine days, a group including park rangers, volunteer hikers and helicopter crews from the National Park Service and US Air Force searched for Dubal on the ground and by air. But poor weather on Wednesday and Thursday limited the abilities of rescuers to continue searching on the ground.

Dubal’s family started a petition on Thursday asking that rescue teams continue searching for him aggressively for at least 72 more hours.

“We cannot bear the thought of an abandoned Sam during a survivable period along with improving weather and with the very best of search teams in charge,” his sister Dena Dubal told CNN in an email.

Helicopter crews searching for remains on Thursday didn’t find a body, Dena Dubal said. And given Sam’s hiking experience and the gear he was carrying, she said the family believes that there’s a high chance that he could still be alive.

Because of the gaps in the search process and the now clearing weather in the areas he’s suspected to have been traveling in, the family is imploring that rescue teams keep up both the ground and air searches.

“We want to convey deep respect that NPS decisions regarding ground and air searches take into account weather and the safety and condition of the search crews,” Dena Dubal added.

CNN has made multiple attempts to reach the National Parks Service for comment but has not yet heard back.

Sam Dubal is 5′ 9″ and 155 pounds, has black hair and a short black beard and is possibly wearing a blue jacket.

Numerous people are reported missing from national parks each year, although there’s no official count.

A 2018 article in Outside magazine reported that at least 1,600 people remain missing from public lands under mysterious circumstances, and the National Parks Service currently lists 23 people on its website who went missing from national parks and whose cases are unresolved.
Wandering off trail is the most common reason that hikers get lost, according to a study by SmokyMountains.com. Whether or not a person survives depends largely on their ability to find food, shelter, water and warmth, though extreme conditions in the wilderness can make that challenging.

When embarking on a trip in the wild, experts recommend packing essential equipment, including maps, fire starters and extra layers of clothing. If venturing off route, hikers should identify a “bailout direction,” such as a creek or road and leave a trail as they go.

CNN’s Melissa Alonso and Sara O’Brien contributed to this report.

Source Article

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Texas oil trade group launches online career center as layoffs mount

The Texas Oil and Gas Association has launched an online career center to help those in the industry who have been laid off during the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic.



a dirty plate on a table: The Texas Oil and Gas Association has launched an online career center to help those in the industry who have been laid off during the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic.


© Hearst Newspapers

The Texas Oil and Gas Association has launched an online career center to help those in the industry who have been laid off during the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic.


Job seekers can submit their resume for a free review and evaluation by a third party group, TopResume. The website also features free resources on resume writing, interviewing and career advancement. TXOGA members receive discounted prices for job postings and other recruitment options through the career website.

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“We are proud to be able to connect our members with the talent they need to fill some of the best jobs in Texas,” TXOGA President Todd Staples said in a statement. “The Career Center is also a great resource for job seekers looking to join one of the many facets of the oil and natural gas industry.”

JOBS LOST: US oil and gas industry lost 107,000 jobs in the pandemic. Most will take years to return.

The new career website from Texas’ largest energy trade group comes as oil and gas companies are laying off thousands of employees in the face of low crude prices and a weakening outlook for fossil fuel demand amid mounting climate change actions. The U.S. oil and gas industry lost 107,000 jobs — or about 7 percent of the 1.6 million employed nationally — between March and August, according to global consulting firm Deloitte. Texas, the nation’s top oil producing state, has borne the brunt of the industry’s layoffs.

Chevron this month plans to lay off 700 workers in Houston, and more layoffs are expected after the California oil giant recently acquired Houston-based Noble Energy. Chevron earlier this year announced plans to lay off 6,000 workers globally by the end of the year.

Shell last month said it plans to cut up to 9,000 jobs over the next two years. BP plans to lay off 10,000 workers globally by the end of the year, and Exxon is undertaking a country-by-country review that may result in layoffs.

After two oil busts in five years,the oil and gas industry will be challenged in its recruiting efforts to replace its aging workforce in the coming decades. The median age of oil and gas workers is 44, according to Deloitte. A little more than half of oil and gas workers surveyed by the University of Houston said they were concerned about job security.

There are signs of recovery in the oil patch as crude prices have climbed to around $40 a barrel. The U.S. rig count, a leading indicator of the nation’s oil and gas production, has been rising over the past months. U.S. energy companies last week operated 282 rigs, up from the trough of 244 rigs in August.

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As the Arctic’s Attractions Mount, Greenland Is a Security Black Hole | World News

By Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen

COPENHAGEN (Reuters) – On a windy August afternoon in 2017, Akitsinnguaq Ina Olsen was relaxing in the old harbour of Nuuk, Greenland’s capital, when a Chinese icebreaker sailed unannounced into the Arctic island’s territorial waters.

“I saw it by chance,” Olsen, 50, told Reuters. “My first thought was: ‘They’re already here!’ They’re pretty cheeky, those Chinese.”

She pulled out her phone and took a picture of the 167-meter long Chinese icebreaker Xue Long (Snow Dragon), before it turned around and disappeared.

The Chinese ship was one of a growing number of unexpected arrivals in Arctic waters as shrinking sea ice has fast-tracked a race among global powers for control over resources and waterways. Both China and Russia have been making increasingly assertive moves in the region, and after the U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo last year said now is “America’s moment to stand up as an Arctic nation and for the Arctic’s future,” military activity is stepping up.

Greenland is a semi-autonomous part of the Kingdom of Denmark and Copenhagen runs the island’s defence through its Joint Arctic Command. On several occasions since 2006, foreign vessels have turned up unexpectedly or without the necessary protocols, in waters that NATO-member Denmark aims to defend, Greenland residents and military sources in Denmark and the United States told Reuters.

Copenhagen and its Arctic neighbours have tried in recent decades to keep the region what they call a “low tension” area. But each event underscores new challenges for Denmark and its allies.

The main problem: It’s hard to see what’s going on there.

Greenland, which U.S. President Donald Trump offered unsuccessfully to buy from Copenhagen last year, is largely an ice sheet with a rocky coastline of 44,000 km (27,000 miles) – longer than the earth’s equator. It’s hidden by almost complete darkness in the winter months.

Beneath its rocks and ice are abundant resources of minerals and rare earth metals used in equipment from smartphones to electric vehicles and military jets, as well as uranium and potentially vast resources of oil and natural gas.

Greenland offers more than resources. The island, which is nearer to New York than New York is to Los Angeles, is also a strategic window onto space.

Located at Thule, the United States’ northernmost air base houses the 21st Space Wing’s network of sensors, which provides early missile warning and space surveillance and control. Thule is one of the few places in the world with access to satellites that orbit the poles, completing coverage of the globe which is essential for weather forecasting, search-and-rescue and climate research.

“Historically the Arctic, like space, was characterised as a predominantly peaceful domain,” Secretary of the U.S. Air Force Barbara Barrett said in July when presenting America’s Arctic strategy in the transcript of a webinar hosted by the Atlantic Council think tank.

Several countries are building new icebreakers to increase freight traffic. China, which in 2018 declared itself a “near-Arctic” nation, has said it wants to build infrastructure and

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As the Arctic’s attractions mount, Greenland is a security black hole

By Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen

COPENHAGEN (Reuters) – On a windy August afternoon in 2017, Akitsinnguaq Ina Olsen was relaxing in the old harbour of Nuuk, Greenland’s capital, when a Chinese icebreaker sailed unannounced into the Arctic island’s territorial waters.

“I saw it by chance,” Olsen, 50, told Reuters. “My first thought was: ‘They’re already here!’ They’re pretty cheeky, those Chinese.”

She pulled out her phone and took a picture of the 167-meter long Chinese icebreaker Xue Long (Snow Dragon), before it turned around and disappeared.

The Chinese ship was one of a growing number of unexpected arrivals in Arctic waters as shrinking sea ice has fast-tracked a race among global powers for control over resources and waterways. Both China and Russia have been making increasingly assertive moves in the region, and after the U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo last year said now is “America’s moment to stand up as an Arctic nation and for the Arctic’s future,” military activity is stepping up.

Greenland is a semi-autonomous part of the Kingdom of Denmark and Copenhagen runs the island’s defence through its Joint Arctic Command. On several occasions since 2006, foreign vessels have turned up unexpectedly or without the necessary protocols, in waters that NATO-member Denmark aims to defend, Greenland residents and military sources in Denmark and the United States told Reuters.

Copenhagen and its Arctic neighbours have tried in recent decades to keep the region what they call a “low tension” area. But each event underscores new challenges for Denmark and its allies.

The main problem: It’s hard to see what’s going on there.

Greenland, which U.S. President Donald Trump offered unsuccessfully to buy from Copenhagen last year, is largely an ice sheet with a rocky coastline of 44,000 km (27,000 miles) – longer than the earth’s equator. It’s hidden by almost complete darkness in the winter months.

Beneath its rocks and ice are abundant resources of minerals and rare earth metals used in equipment from smartphones to electric vehicles and military jets, as well as uranium and potentially vast resources of oil and natural gas.

Greenland offers more than resources. The island, which is nearer to New York than New York is to Los Angeles, is also a strategic window onto space.

Located at Thule, the United States’ northernmost air base houses the 21st Space Wing’s network of sensors, which provides early missile warning and space surveillance and control. Thule is one of the few places in the world with access to satellites that orbit the poles, completing coverage of the globe which is essential for weather forecasting, search-and-rescue and climate research.

“Historically the Arctic, like space, was characterised as a predominantly peaceful domain,” Secretary of the U.S. Air Force Barbara Barrett said in July when presenting America’s Arctic strategy in the transcript of a webinar hosted by the Atlantic Council think tank.

“This is changing.”

Several countries are building new icebreakers to increase freight traffic. China, which in 2018 declared itself a “near-Arctic” nation, has said it

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