University of Otago Senior Fellow Helps to Establish Everest’s New Height

Geodesist Dr Chris Pearson has recently involved in Mount Everest’s re-measuring after contributing his expertise and New Zealand designed GPS technology.

An Honorary Senior Fellow of Surveying at Otago University, Dr Pearson has extensive knowledge of measuring the Earth’s topography by applying advanced mathematical equations and GPS technology.

After the devastating Gorkha earthquakes in 2015, Dr Pearson spent time in Nepal, helping with mapping projects to help recover.

His expertise and established a connection with Nepal eventually lead him to partner with Nepal’s Department of Survey, advising and training surveyors in the Mt Everest Project.

Dr Pearson said he gained great satisfaction in supporting Nepalese surveyors reach the goal of measuring Mount Everest, which is a significant part of their national identity.

The newly recorded height of 8,848.86m for Mt Everest is slightly increased on the previously held height of 8,848m recorded in 1954. Dr Pearson explained, “Owing to tectonic activity such as the significant 2015 Gorkha Earthquake, the height of Everest is constantly changing and using the latest technologies allowed the new accurate measurements to be made.”

Due to the seismically active nature of New Zealand, Dr Pearson and other experts have been able to develop specialist surveying knowledge and equipment that caters to ever-changing landscapes. The New Zealand company Trimble donated equipment, including GPS receivers, installed at Everest’s summit to establish its height.

Dr Pearson adds that given the GPS technology used, this new measurement is the most accurate ever taken, and these same new techniques can be used to assess other mountains in Nepal accurately.

Completing this project further strengthens the connection between the Government of Nepal and the University of Otago — while also honouring Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay Sherpa, the first explorers to reach the summit in 1953.


Photo by Kalle Kortelainen on Unsplash

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