Tallest peak may not measure up
JUNEAU — North America's tallest peak, Alaska's Mount McKinley, may have been taken down a notch.
An effort to update decades-old maps using airplane-mounted radar technology showed the mountain, called Denali by locals, stands at 20,237 feet. That's 83 feet shorter than an estimate of 20,320 feet from the early 1950s.
McKinley would still be more than 680 feet taller than the continent's second-highest peak, Canada's Mount Logan.
The discovery was made in 2011, after data from a 2010 flight was processed, but details weren't widely released until this week by Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell, who serves on the Alaska Mapping Executive Committee.
Kari Craun of the U.S. Geological Survey said the technology used in the mapping is advanced but its focus is on surveying an area, not a specific point. She said more study would need to be done, but the agency did not have plans to conduct another survey or officially change the height.
Alaska is known for its vast, rugged and, sometimes, dangerous landscape, a place where most communities aren't connected to the road system and residents rely heavily on airplanes for travel. Many of the state's topographical maps go back about 50 years, roughly around statehood.
Topographic data “is the most fundamental piece of infrastructure that any state can own,” said Nicholas Mastrodicasa, the state's digital mapping project manager. But before the new mapping effort got underway, he said, “Mars was better mapped than Alaska.”
The radar technology is not the usual radar. It can penetrate ice and snow, Mastrodicasa said.
Sensors are mounted on the belly and at the wing tips of a sleek-looking aircraft that flies at about 40,000 feet and “bombards the earth” with radar, which collects elevation data, he said.
Researchers have previously thought that McKinley was shorter than the early-'50s estimate.
A team in 1989 estimated the height at 20,306 feet, and a researcher at the Geophysical Institute at the University of Alaska Fairbanks reminded Fugro EarthData, Inc., the contractor that conducted the 2010 survey, that the ice and snow that cover the mountain can change from year to year, according to a Fugro report.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- 2 women advance to final phase of Army Ranger training
- Name of cop withheld in shooting of motorist in South Carolina
- Marines finally ready to roll out controversial fighter jet
- State Department accuses top Clinton aide of violations
- 4 dead, 65 sickened in Bronx by Legionella
- Food industry players fighting proposed dietary guidelines drop millions on lobbyists
- Pressure mounts for Biden to join 2016 White House race
- Obama’s nuclear deal lobbying sways Democrats
- U.S., Hong Kong researchers develop computer model to examine spread of influenza
- Construction of giant bridges sparks curiosity, high demand for public tours
- Midwest farmers pessimistic of fall harvest amid damaging, long-term rain