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WWU students, faculty make trip to Mt. Everest to study climate change

(AP)

A team of Western Washington University students, researchers, and faculty are making the trip to Mount Everest this spring, in an effort to study the global effect of climate change.

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The group will be exploring both Everest and the neighboring peak, Lhotse, in an expedition that will run from late March to early June.

The group will accumulate data in the valleys around Everest to build tolerance for the extreme altitude, and then make its way onto the slopes of both Everest and Lhotse at the end of May. The goal is to reach the summit of both peaks.

Through this, the WWU research group will look to study how climate change is affecting the highest mountains on the planet.

“The focus of our work in the Himalayas is to document changes in high mountain ecosystems as they respond to the effects of human land-use decisions, climate variability and change, and more,” WWU’s Director of Mountain Environments Research Institute John All said in a news release. “And there is only so much you can do remotely. We need to be there to get this data. We need the actual snow, ice, and vegetation samples — and the higher, the better.”

This will be the seventh time that All has been to the Everest area.

Specifically, researchers will examine soot and other air pollution particulates, which can speed up the rate at which Himalaya’s snow and glaciers melt. The group will also observe deforestation in Nepal’s Sagarmatha National Park, and the effect of climate change and tourism on local Sherpa communities.

Since Sir Edmund Hilary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay were the first to scale Mount Everest in 1953, over 4,000 people have reached the peak of the mountain.

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