In 1986, a team of American explorers Lance Owensco claimed that Mount K2 in Pakistan was higher than Mount Everest. His claim was challenged by Italian professors Augustino da Polenza and Ardisto Dacio. He enlisted the help of scientists and climbers to recalculate the height of Everest and K2. The EV-K2-CNR project was launched after the Italian National Research Council (CNR) provided funding. Both the mountains were measured by GPS method and it was confirmed that Everest is the highest.
Two years later, he formed the EV-K2-CNR Committee to conduct technical and scientific research in the Himalayan region. Polenja led the committee. In the same year, an agreement was reached between the committee and the then Ronast of Nepal, and a ‘Pyramid Laboratory / Observatory’ was established at the highest point in the world (5050 m). Due to its high technical equipment, the laboratory is considered a model of the world.
Along with the timeline, the laboratory also extended its hand of research in the field of health, geology, and others. In 2017, a research paper by 9 Italian and 1/1 Nepali and Chinese researchers was published in The Cryosphere Journal. A study of the Everest region from 1994 to 2013 found an average temperature increase of 0.044 degrees each year. During the monsoon, the rate of rain and snowfall above 5,000 meters was also found to have decreased. The research paper states that the precipitation rate is decreasing by 9.3 millimeters every year. This was a clear indication that the monsoon was weakening.
From the data obtained from this laboratory, 756 scientific articles have been published. More than 500 scientific groups have observed it. More than 200 scientists have done research here. But after the Italian government stopped paying the committee after 2014, the laboratory lasted for one year. It has been completely closed since then.
Under the Pyramid Laboratory, six different seasonal measurement centers have been set up from Lukla to Kalapathar in the Everest region. In which the data related to the climate of the Himalayan region is measured and recorded. Depending on the location, data related to air temperature, pressure and speed, rainfall, solar radiation, depth of snow, ground temperature, and humidity are collected in these centers.
At an altitude of 5070 meters, there is a ‘Climate Observatory Station’ within the laboratory. This station is now completely closed. The station’s computer, mercury machine, weight analyzer, map filter, and other equipment have stopped working. By studying the PM particles found in the air of the high mountainous region from this station, the temperature rise and melting rate of snow are known. Problems have also been seen in the GPS station of the laboratory and the web camera at Kalapathar.
According to earlier data released by the laboratory, the temperature in Kalapattar was minus 27 degrees Celsius in winter 20 years ago. A few years ago, minus 23 degrees was recorded. This data also shows the impact of the increase in greenhouse gas emissions on the mountainous region. Lobuche recorded a temperature of minus 24 degrees in 2006. Researchers say that such important data can be obtained from the pyramid laboratory and that it will help in ‘climate modeling’.
What do Italian researchers say?
Dr. Gianni Tartary says the lab has special importance to the world. It was very challenging to come to Nepal from Italy, the mountainous region because it is a very remote area. He served as the head of the Scientific Council of the EV-K2-CNR Committee for seven years. He stressed the need for immediate operation of the laboratory.
Peter Verja, CNR’s chief technical director, who visited Nepal three years ago, said the lab was a great source of data for researchers. He emphasized the need for all parties to be serious about running it in the long run. He used to come to Nepal from time to time to repair the damaged equipment in the laboratory but he has not come since the onset of the Corona epidemic.
Although Nast Nepal has said it is preparing to re-operate with the EV-K2-CNR committee, the process has not been able to move forward due to the corona epidemic.