How is the height of a mountain measured?

Surveyors use

When we read of high mountains in books, we may wonder how the height of a mountain is actually measured.  Most of our figures for mountain heights were obtained with an altimeter.

This is a kind of barometer that uses air pressure to measure altitude, or height above sea level.  Altimeters give quick and easy readings.

For more accurate readings, surveyors use a special instrument called a transit, and mathematics.

Bu sighting a mountain peak through his transit, the surveyor finds the angle between an imaginary level line and the line of sight to the mountain peak.  By measuring the angles he can tell us how high the mountain is without actually climbing it.

Even with this method it is not easy to measure exactly how tall a mountain really is.  As far as anyone knows the very highest mountain land is Mt. Everest in the Himalayas.  It is 29,028 feet above sea level—over 5 miles high. – Dick Rogers



  1. Actually, depending on the reference level, Mt. Everest is not the highest mountain! There are actually three ways – that I know of – for figuring a mountains height. Did you know that?

    A mountain may be measured from sea-level (which changes with the tides, climates, etc).

    A mountain may also be measured from its base, where the term “base” refers to that relatively-flat region in which people arguably say “this is not the mountain”. By that standard, a mountain may be measured from sea-floor… and in fact the tallest mountain by this guideline is submarine.

    A mountain may also be measured relative to the Earth’s center. By this definition, mountains tend to be “taller” near the equator – since the Earth is ovalish and bulges.

  2. waterfriend

    The density of water at zero degrees centigrade is 0.9999 grams per cm. The density of ice at zero degree centigrade is 0.9150. In other words, 1 cc of ice weights only 0.91 gm and hence will displace only 0.915cc of water, when the ice is floating in water. When the ice float, almost the whole of body sinks below the surface of water, expect a small portion projecting above the surface. In the North Pole area, there is no land. The crust of the earth forms a huge bowl filled with seawater and a huge mass of ice floating in it just like an ice cube placed in a bowl of water. The volume of ice submerged below the ice may be almost 9 times more than the icecap which we observe above the surface of water. The molecules covering the underwater portion of the icecap absorb heat from the sea water in which it floats and melt into water. This is a continuous process happening round the clock, allover the year, irrespective of summer or winter. As I have explained in my booklet, the necessary energy is supplied by the earth itself. The role of the Sun which shines only for a limited period is too insignificant to have any impact on this process. As the density of water is more than that of ice, the volume of water generated by the melting of ice is less than that of water originally occupied by the ice block in the ratio 9999:9150. Therefore the sea level will actually come down because of the melting process. In practice, this may not happen because of the continuous deposition of snow in the polar region which will continuously push down the ice cap.

    A lot has been talked about the rising of sea level because of Global warming. This is a misconception. In some places, the sea level goes up and in other places, it recedes. This phenomenon has been extensively discussed in Milner’s geography.

    My contention can be tested by a simple experiment. Place ice cubes in a tumbler and fill it with water until the water overflows. Leave it until all the ice melts. Watch for any overflow of water during this process.

    For my booklet GLOBAL WARMING IS A MYTH

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