LSC News - December 2020

December 15, 2020
Chair's Message

Recently appointed Chair of the SSSI Land Surveying Commission, Lee Hellen presents the LSC December Geomessage. Click here to view the transcript. 


We would like to extend a warm welcome to new members to SSSI and the Land Surveying Commission in October and November 2020.

Ali Ahmandizadeh NSW   Lauren MacNair QLD
Andrew Clark NSW   Le Hong Viet WA
Andrew Morcom QLD   Liam Kearney WA
Anthony Poriazis VIC   Mandy Burns NSW
Ben Marwedel QLD   Mohamed Saleh NSW
Daniel Vodicar VIC   Nab Subedi QLD
Darcy Edwards QLD    Pin-Wei Tu WA
Harry Wade VIC   Stephen Steggall QLD
Jean Pierre Habiyaremye OS   Tommaso Maisano VIC
Joel McMahon QLD   Tyler Carroll QLD
Jordan Smith NSW      
Joseph Leonard VIC      
Joshua Sinclair QLD      


The FIG Working Week planned to be held in The Netherlands 21-25 June 2021, will be a virtual conference for all surveyors and spatial professionals around the globe.

The theme will remain the same as for this year's Working Week: Smart Surveyors for Land and Water Management -Challenges in a New Reality with an addition to also to reflect on the impact of COVID-19 on our profession.

In addition to the subthemes Smart Surveyors, Integrated Land and Water Management and Ten Years to Achieve the SDG’s, it is proposed to focus on the surveyor and the challenges they have in a unstable, uncertain, unpredictable world and with what technology, methods and procedures they face these new developments. How do surveyors adapt to these unexpected circumstances and what have we learned so far from these challenges?

Invitation to FIG e-Working Week 2021, 21-25 June.

Future FIG Conferences and working weeks include:

  • FIG Congress 2022, Cape Town, South Africa 
  • FIG Working Week 2023, Orlando, Florida, USA
  • FIG Working Week 2024, Accra, Ghana


Nepal and China last week have jointly announced that world's highest mountain Mount Everest is 0.86m higher than had been previously officially calculated

In what appears to be as much about politics as geography, China and Nepal have jointly announced a new official height for Mount Everest, ending a discrepancy between the two nations. There had been debate over the actual height of the peak and concern it might have shrunk after a major earthquake in 2015.

Until now the countries differed over whether to add the snow cap on top. The new height is 8,848.86m (29,032 ft).

China's previous official measurement of 8,844.43m had put the mountain nearly four metres lower than Nepal's. Officials at Nepal's foreign ministry and department of survey said surveyors from both countries had co-ordinated to agree on the new height. Surveyors from Nepal scaled the peak in 2019 and a Chinese team did the same in 2020, to install beacons and satellite equipment to measure the peak and GPR to measure the snow depth on the summit.

Chinese authorities had said previously Mount Everest should be measured to its rock height, while Nepalese authorities argued the snow on top of the summit should be included.

The height of the mountain was measured from mean sea level. Nepal used the Bay of Bengal as its sea level, but India had already surveyed a point closer to Everest, near the India-Nepal border, from the bay, and was able to provide the Nepalese surveyors with the height at that point. The Chinese surveyors used the Yellow Sea in the eastern province of Shandong as their sea-level base.

Nepali surveyors then used precise levelling to carry sea level heights from the southern plains of Nepal to selected control points. Around 250km of precise levelling was carried out. They then used 12 different lower peaks looking up at the Everest summit where beacons had been placed for their trigonometry calculations, Chinese media reported that Chinese surveyors used the same method. Both sides also used GNNS to receive elevation data from numerous receivers in their calculations. The Chinese surveyors used China's BeiDou navigation satellite system and the Nepalese Surveyors GPS.A Gravity survey was also conducted at over 100 gravity stations to define the local geoid.

Nepal's government officials told the BBC in 2012 that they were under pressure from China to accept the Chinese height and therefore they had decided to go for a fresh measurement to "set the record straight once and for all". The 8,848m height Nepal had previously been using for Mount Everest was determined by the Survey of India in 1954, but for the first time the country has now conducted its own measurement of the summit.

Ganesh Prasad Bhatta, Head of Nepali Government’s survey department says-

“Nepal has never measured Everest on its own although the world’s highest peak lies in its territory. So, we want to prove to our people that Nepal is capable of measuring Everest.”

The Nepalese summit measurement team was lead by Chief Survey Officer Mr. Khimlal Gautam who lost his toe to frostbite

Everest's height was first determined by a British team in around 1856 as 8,842 metres, but the most accepted height has been 8,848 metres, which was determined by the Survey of India in 1954. In 1999, a National Geographic Society team using GPS technology came up with a height of 8,850 metres and a Chinese team in 2005 said it was 8,844.43 metres, not including the snow cap.

This agreement should finally end the debate over the height, and now the world will have one value to adopt.

A Chinese surveying team installing beacons on the world's most famous peak. (AP: Tashi Tsering/Xinhua)


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