A multidisciplinary team of climate scientists and world-renowned climbers has returned to the world's highest peak as a part of the National Geographic Scientific Expedition aiming to conduct essential maintenance on world's highest weather stations on Mt Everest.

A team led by climate scientist Baker Perry from Appalachian State University will reinstall the world's highest weather station at the Balcony area (8,430 m) and carry out maintenance on other stations on Mt Everest, according to the Department of Hydrology and Meteorology.

Five automatic weather stations were installed during the Perpetual Planet Extreme expedition on Mt Everest organised by National Geographic Society in April/May 2019. Weather stations were installed at the Balcony area (8,430 m) and South Col (7,945 m), Camp II (6,464 m), Everest Base Camp (5,315 m) and Phortse (3,810 m).

"The expedition team will reinstall the highest station at Balcony and carry out maintenance on South Col station," DHM Meteorologist Niraj S Pradhananga, who returned from the base camp yesterday after meeting with the expedition team, shared.

Balcony station was collapsed a few months after its installation while South Col station has also not providing all data as expected. Balcony station is expected to be the first to sample the stratosphere as natural variations in the atmospheric boundaries change over time. Other three stations have, however, been fully measuring the air temperature, wind speed and direction, air pressure, change in surface height of snow, incoming shortwave and long wave radiation, and out-going shortwave and long wave radiations.

According to Pradhananga, a memorandum of understanding between DHM and National Geographic was also signed to operate all five AWSs providing near real-time information about mountain conditions. National Geographic team will fully operate the stations till the end of 2025 before handing over the same to the Government of Nepal. "Technology transfer will be done by 2026," he said, adding, "As climate change is one of the biggest challenges facing humanity, DHM, Tribhuvan University and Sagarmatha National Park will also coordinate with the National Geographic for the proper utilization of weather data."

"The expedition team members include fellow climate scientist Tom Matthews, climbing guides Peter Athans and Dawa Yangzum Sherpa, Nepalese climate scientist Ari Khadka, and elite climbing Sherpa team led by Tenzing Gyalzen Sherpa," team leader Baker Perry shared, adding, "Appreciate great logistical support by Jiban Ghimire and Shangri-La Nepal Trek P. Ltd and strong support of Appalachian State Department of Geography and Planning, College of Arts & Sciences Appalachian State, Appalachian State University, King's College London and ROLEX."