How scientists installed world’s highest weather station on Everest

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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.

 

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