Sherpas laboured in the “death zone” and installed the world’s highest weather station, perched at 8,430 metres, just 400 metres short of Everest’s summit. But it nearly didn’t happen.
Having been stuck behind a queue of climbers heading for the summit, the 2019 National Geographic and Rolex expedition team were dangerously cold when they reached the location where the station was to be installed. “We paced back and forth, attempting to stave off frostbite as wind-chill temperatures hovered close to -30°C and our drill batteries became too cold to work,” said Loughborough University’s Tom Matthews on the Conversation. Luckily team member Phutasi Sherpa had enough body heat to warm up the batteries and get the drill going again, enabling the team to bolt their weather station to the side of the mountain.
As well as helping to keep climbers safe, the data from this extreme weather station is enabling scientists to directly monitor the jet stream and get a handle on how Himalayan climate is changing. Preliminary measurements published in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society are already overturning assumptions, indicating that despite the sub-freezing conditions melting may even be possible on the summit.
News is under threat …
… just when we need it the most. Millions of readers around the world are flocking to the Guardian in search of honest, authoritative, fact-based reporting that can help them understand the biggest challenge we have faced in our lifetime. But at this crucial moment, news organisations are facing a cruel financial double blow: with fewer people able to leave their homes, and fewer news vendors in operation, we’re seeing a reduction in newspaper sales across the UK. Advertising revenue continues to fall steeply meanwhile as businesses feel the pinch. We need you to help fill the gap.
We believe every one of us deserves equal access to vital public service journalism. So, unlike many others, we made a different choice: to keep Guardian journalism open for all, regardless of where they live or what they can afford to pay. This would not be possible without financial contributions from those who can afford to pay, who now support our work from 180 countries around the world.
Reader financial support has meant we can keep investigating, disentangling and interrogating. It has protected our independence, which has never been so critical. We are so grateful.
We need your support so we can keep delivering quality journalism that’s open and independent. And that is here for the long term. Every reader contribution, however big or small, is so valuable.