NOVA: Who will be able to access the information from this site?
BILHAM: Well, supposing we get the link between Everest and Kathmandu
established, anyone in the world should be able to pick up the data. It is
stored on the system's data logger and I should be able to call up the data
logger with software loaded in my PC. Exactly how we make that data available
to the public has not been determined yet, but we are hoping to put it on the
internet for public use.
NOVA: What will it be useful for?
BILHAM: The unique thing about a weather station on Everest is that it's
a very tall mountain of course, but it is a divide, it's a mountain which is in
a boundary between dry conditions over Tibet and very wet conditions south of
here—monsoon conditions sometimes. People are beginning to realize that the
Tibetan plateau drives most of the world's weather systems. It's a huge, high
plateau and in the summer it heats up and sucks in air from all over Asia, and
in particlar it sucks in moist air from the Indian Ocean and that brings with
it a tremendous rainfall potential which dumps on the southern edge of the
Himalayas, and in so doing washes away vast quantities of sediment into the
oceans. In fact, a quarter of all the world's sedimentary deposits are being
washed into the Indian Ocean from this monsoon condition that happens every
year. The monsoons carve their mark yearly on the Himalayas as they push
sediments from the mountains down to the Ganges,the Brahmaputra, and the Indus
rivers. (See our NOVA program in December '96 about the Himalaya's effect on
NOVA: Will the weather station be useful in helping predict storms on
Everest for expeditions attempting its summit?
BILHAM: The data will certainly help, but the weather station will tell
us only about the weather actually occurring that day (or minute) on Everest.
It is up to us to interpret these data, together with data from all over Asia,
if we are to predict changes in future weather in the Everest region.
Sensors being used on the station include type K thermocouples, a special
thermistor from Yellow Springs Instruments, a wind sensor from RM Young Inc.,
designed for high wind speed, and a solar radiation sensor from Licor.
Photos: (1) Liesl Clark; (2-3) courtesy David Breashears.