Rolex And National Geographic Society Install The World's Highest Weather Station On Mount Everest
Do you know where the highest weather station in the world is situated at? The Balcony weather station is found on Mount Everest at 8,430m above sea level and was newly installed only earlier this year as part of the Rolex Perpetual Planet Extreme Expedition to Mount Everest.
Led by the National Geographic Society in partnership with Tribhuvan University, an international team of scientists and explorers conducted a scientific expedition to Mount Everest between April and June 2019. The trip is believed to be the most comprehensive single scientific expedition to the mountain in history. During the expedition, the multidisciplinary team installed not one but five weather stations on Mount Everest, which is known locally as Sagarmatha or Chomolungma.
Why does the team need to install weather stations high up on the icy cold mountains, one may ask? The Perpetual Planet Extreme Expedition is part of a robust effort to reveal new insights about the impacts of climate change on some of the Earth’s most extreme and unique environments. And in this case, the expedition to Chomolungma is focused on understanding the effects of climate change on the glaciers and environment of the Karakoram Range, with implications for the Hindu Kush–Himalaya. The glaciers form a critical water tower that helps supply water to more than a billion people throughout the region, and they are shrinking, placing millions at risk from deadly flooding and landslides in the near term. The situation is expected to worsen in the future with possibilities of droughts and water scarcity.
“This is a new window into the planet,” said Paul Mayewski, director of the Climate Change Institute at the University of Maine and the expedition's scientific leader, to National Geographic magazine. “This is one of the faster warming continental regions in the world, but we don’t know what’s really going on above 5,000 meters,” he continued, “and these mountains are the water towers of the planet. Between 20 and 25 per cent of the world’s population gets their water from the Himalaya.”
How weather is measured on Mount Everest
Agreeing with Mayewski was Jonathan Baillie, executive vice president and chief scientist at the National Geographic Society. He said: "Climate change is one of the biggest challenges facing humanity and there is still much to learn about how it’s already altered the world, from the deepest parts of the ocean to its tallest mountains. By harnessing our history of exploration and venturing into some of the most extreme environments on the planet, we will fill critical data gaps on the world’s life support systems and drive solutions to assure that they can continue to fuel our future.”
Climate change is one of the biggest challenges facing humanity and there is still much to learn about how it’s already altered the world, from the deepest parts of the ocean to its tallest mountains.
— Jonathan Baillie, executive vice president and chief scientist at the National Geographic Society
Not only did the expedition team install five operating automated weather stations on Mount Everest, they collected the highest-ever ice core and conducted comprehensive biodiversity surveys at multiple elevations. During the arduous expedition, they also managed to capture detailed remote sensing scans and photogrammetric imaging of the Everest Base Camp area and the entire Khumbu Glacier, collected water and glacier samples as well as surveyed biodiversity and wildlife in the region. The information and data collected will be analysed with the focus on biology, glaciology, meteorology, geology and mapping with scientific results expected to be published in time to come.
The Perpetual Planet Extreme Expedition is part of the renewed and expanded partnership between Rolex and National Geographic Society, which aims to illuminate the impacts of climate change on our changing planet and equip communities with tools to bolster their resilience. Both Rolex and National Geographic Society will fund grants and fellowships for explorers working to implement and scale solutions to climate change impacts in mountain, rainforest and ocean environments. This enhanced partnership between the two forms one of the three pillars of the watchmaker's Perpetual Planet campaign. The other two tenets are the Rolex Awards for Enterprise, a biennial initiative to support enterprising individuals helming exceptional projects to conserve our cultural heritage and protect the environment, and marine biologist Sylvia Earle’s Mission Blue project to safeguard the oceans through a network of marine protected “Hope Spots”.
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