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The natural world. Looking pretty for 3.5b years.

Navel of the World

Author: Hugh Bollinger/Thursday, August 22, 2019/Categories: natural history, photography, space science, art and design, environment, adventure


                               North Face of Mount Kailash, Tibet (credit: Wikipedia/Onderej Zvacek))

A mountain in western Tibet is called the navel of the world. Snows melting from its slopes are the water source for some of Asia's longest and most important rivers: the Brahmaputra, the Sutlej, and the Karnali. Its waters nourish millions of people. The far-away peak is considered sacred to the Bon, the Buddhists, Hindus, and Jains. By tradition, Mount Kailash is off limits to mountaineer. Instead, visitors to the mountain make a circular pilgrimage taking four days to walk around the massif at elevations exceeding 18,000 feet.

Mount Kailash, Tibet  (credit: CalTech-JPL JPL)

Closer to home, in Pasadena, California scientists and engineers at CalTech have used multiple light wavelengths to gather visible and infrared scans of the mountain to create the first high-resolution (~50 to 300 feet) image-map, ASTER. It will be used to monitor changes to the ice and snow covering the peak. The goal was to: "develop a understanding of the Earth as an integrated system, its response to change, and to better predict variability and trends in climate, weather, and natural hazards."

The book Circling the Sacred Mountain explores the inner experiences of two adventurers as they made the trek. The pilgrims in the book had similar lofty ambitions.



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