National Geographic Expedition on Mt Everest

Mount Everest is the highest mountain in the world. ⛰️

It’s part of the Himalaya mountain range, which stretches across 5 countries: Bhutan, India, Nepal, China, and Pakistan.

Mount Everest’s ice glaciers are an important source of water to over 1 billion people who live downstream. 🌊

However, climate change is affecting the mountain in ways that have never been seen before. ☀️😳

Scientists climbing mount everest

To better understand the impact of climate change on mountain systems, a team of researchers went to investigate. 👨‍🔬👩‍🔬

National Geographic teamed up with scientists from Tribhuvan University in Nepal in order to explore Everest.

Let’s see what they found out and how many records they achieved…

Scientists installing weather station on Mt Everest

Highest altitude weather station on land

Weather stations have machines that measure things like temperature, wind speed, wind direction and much more. 💨❄️

To understand the extreme weather of Everest, the team installed 5 automatic weather stations.

These weather stations provide important info about the weather conditions all around the mountain. They provide researchers with data about how global warming has affected Mount Everest. 

Of the 5 weather stations, the Balcony station is the highest up the mountain. It’s the first-ever land weather station in the “death zone” of Mount Everest, which is above 8,000 m (26,247 ft). 💀

Nat Geo Scientist drilling carefully for ice core sample

Highest altitude ice core taken

The scientists also collected samples of ice, rocks, water, and snow to examine the effects of pollution. 💧🧊

The team removed parts of the ice core from the South Col glacier at 8,020 meters (26,312 feet) above sea level, achieving the highest altitude ice core taken

To carefully take out the ice samples, they utilized a specially modified drill system. 

After testing them, the scientists discovered that the ice samples contained microplastics. This was the highest altitude microplastic found on land.

National Geographic researchers setting up equipment

Highest altitude microplastic found on land

Microplastics are tiny bits of plastic that are usually too small to be seen. They are made when bigger pieces of plastic break down into smaller pieces.

Microplastics can be found throughout the world - from the oceans to the highest point on Earth, as we have now discovered. 🌍

Because they are so small, microplastics are hard to remove and recycle. For this reason, they pose a huge threat to animals, plants and their habitats worldwide. 🐳🌷

To learn more about our planet and ways to help, check out Guinness World Records 2022

Header image credit: Left - Mark Fisher/National Geographic, Right - Dirk Collins/National Geographic