An official measuring of Earth's tallest mountain has revealed something that sounds surprising.
Mount Everest is taller than ever—a stunning 8,848.86 metres (29,031 feet) high!
But it's not exactly what it sounds like. Everest isn't necessarily growing (more on that later). What is growing is the world's ability to agree on exactly how tall this incredible natural phenomenon is.
Nepal and China agree
The new height is the result of a joint survey between Nepal and China—the two countries that Everest straddle as it is right on the border between these nations.
For many years, both countries had their own versions of its height. Nepal's figure was based on an Indian survey from 1953, which was 8,848 metres (29,028 feet). Meanwhile, China had conducted a survey in 2005 that arrived at a shorter height of 8,844.43 metres (29,015 feet).
Then, after significant earthquake activity in 2015 that could've affected Everest's height, the two nations decided that it was time to work together on an official measurement. (Nepal first began the new effort to measure Everest, with China joining its team later.) That final height was then revealed at a news conference in Nepal's capital of Kathmandu earlier this month.
How do you measure a mountain?
Obviously, measuring the height of Mount Everest is more complicated that asking it to stand up against the door frame so you can run a pencil across its head.
It is a complicated process that involves hundreds of people. They gather information from the ground, viewing the mountain from different points. They collect information via helicopter as well. And, most dangerously, they must climb the summit with heavy gear to measure the peak's position via global satellites. This meant staying on the peak for two hours in sub-zero temperatures until all of the data was collected.
All in all, it turns out that Everest is slightly taller than was previously recored. Was it always this height? Or did that height really change? Because mountains—like everything else on this planet—do 'grow' and 'shrink' over time. Usually very, very slowly, though big events like earthquakes can speed up this process.
Either way, hopefully this new official measurement of 8,848.86 metres (29,031 feet) will stick for a while. We can't imagine anyone would be eager to go to all of that trouble again anytime soon!