China now thinks Everest, the world’s highest peak, is about 3.7 meters (about 12 feet) shorter than its own past estimates after conducting a new survey of the mountain this year, state media reported on Sunday.
Mount Everest stood 8,844.43 meters above sea level, with a margin of error of about 0.21 meters, Chen Bangzhu, Director General of the State Bureau of Surveying and Mapping, told a news conference.
Chinese mountaineers and researchers climbed to the top of Mount Everest in May to determine whether the world’s tallest mountain was still growing.
Chen told reporters on state television the updated figure did not mean the mountain had shrunk over time.
“The data is so far the most detailed and precise among (those from) all previous surveys domestically and internationally,” the official was cited by China Central Television as saying.
“We cannot arrive at the conclusion now that the Everest has become shorter, because there have been problems ... of surveying technology with previous measurements.”
In 1975, Chinese scientists measured the height of Everest at 8,848.13 meters (29,029 feet, 3 inches), a few centimeters more than an Indian survey had found in the 1950s.
Then in 1999, a U.S. team measured the mountain -- known to Chinese as Qomolangma and straddling the border between China and Nepal -- at 8,850 meters.
Growing or not, Everest is changing in other ways: its glaciers are shrinking on the Chinese side faster than ever because of global warming, official media have reported.