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In the Media

article imagePhoto: Mount Everest interactive image in 3.8 billion pixels

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By JohnThomas Didymus
Dec 21, 2012 in Environment
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A mountaineer and film-maker has created the most detailed image of Mount Everest ever. Working with Microsoft and the Royal Geographic Society, David Breashears has created a 3.8-billion-pixel photographic reproduction of the world's tallest mountain.
The American mountaineer Breashears, became, in 1985, the first American to reach the summit of the Mount Everest.
When you look at the panoramic image, it looks like an ordinary photograph of the mountain, though you would be struck by its crispness. However, when you zoom in, you discover that the 3.8 billion pixel image, made of 477 smaller photographs, allows you to sit at your desk in the office or recline on you couch at home and take a life-like tour of the mountain.
According to GlacierWorks, the pixel count of the completed image comes to 120,000 x 31,840 pixels, which yields a total of 3,820,800,000, or about 3.8 billion.
The interactive image allows you to select and click on areas and zoom in to see the stunning details of the mountains, such as mountaineers braving the elements and even details as small as writing on a prayer flag, MSN Now reports.
The Washington Post reports that the 477 photo composite image is part of a larger project called GlacierWorks by Breashears, that aims to document the current state of glaciers in the Himalayas and how the mountain and the glaciers are being affected by climate change.
Khumbu glacier from Pumori viewpoint
GlacierWorks/David Breashears
Khumbu glacier from Pumori viewpoint
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According to The Telegraph, the 477 individual photographs were taken during the climbing season in spring 2012 from vantage points all around the mountain using a 300 mm lens.
The panoramic photograph of the mountain was captured from the Pummori viewpoint, The Telegraph reports. It shows the Everest peak (8848m), the khumbu ice fall below, the Lothse peak (8516m), and Changtse peak (7543m).
It is possible for the viewer to zoom in and see the people around the Everest Base Camp. The Telegraph reports Breashears says: "The Khumbu Ice-fall is clearly visible here, and one can easily see the hustle and bustle of Everest Base Camp below. It's just extraordinary and we're so excited by that image, and people love clicking on things and zooming in. We want to tell the bigger story of climate change in the area, and we are working with Microsoft and the Royal Geographical Society on this."
Since his first ascension in 1985, Mr Breashears has climbed Everest five times. He has been involved in studying how climate change is affecting the mountain as part of his GlacierWorks, a non-profit project, The Telegraph reports. According to NPR, his latest project matches old photos of Mount Everest and its glaciers with new images to demonstrate how climate change is affecting the mountain.
Newser reports he said that compared with 20th-century shots of the mountain, "we see a lot less ice. We see less snow cover. We see much more exposed rock in nearly all of the places we visited."
The Telegraph reports he said: "Just 1/100th of our imagery is on the site, and the storytelling possibilities are incredible - people love to move things. It started out as a simple concept, and every time we visit we find out more - this is not even the tip of the iceberg, we want to take people all over the mountain with 120,000 pictures from a helicopter in the region. We are building this with Microsoft, and we could soon be able to combine the old and new pictures so people can virtually 'swipe' images to see how they looked in the past."
The world's highest mountain was named after George Everest, Welsh Surveyor-General of India from 1830 to 1843. Mount Everest is the highest mountain in the world at 29,029 ft (8,848 metres).
The interactive panoramic image of the Himalaya in gigapixel navigation may be viewed here.
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