The Mount Everest massif and Barun Valley is a first opportunity—“highest place on Earth for the highest priority.” As a monitoring method, technologies, and partnerships are perfected, other biomeridians will be added:
- A biomeridian in Africa, spanning similarly from the tropics to the arctic. Exactly which mountain slope should be chosen has not been determined. Very likely it will be in the Ruwenzori Mountains or Mount Kilimanjaro.
- The concept of biomeridian was discovered two centuries ago by Alexander von Humboldt on the Chimborazo volcano in South America. (More complete description below.) Now a permanent monitoring station will be set up on Chimborazo, and like Everest also a transect with wet/dry parallel options.
- Mauna Loa in Hawaii will be a fourth biomeridian that runs from snow-clad summits to the tropics—attractive also because this Earth’s longest monitoring of CO2 levels and because this mountain transect extends to 20,000 feet deep in the Pacific Ocean.
A first biomeridian will be established off the Mt Everest massif. In Nepal’s Makalu-Barun National Park, the Barun Valley is intact from biological tropics to its arctic-like summits (Everest, but also Lhotse 4th highest and Makalu 5th highest).
Few resident life forms are above 16,000 feet, while the valley bottom contains a rich biology with tropical species such as tree ferns. There are no villages in this valley, and only three very simple trails. Insofar as any place in the Himalaya is pure wild , the Barun is that place.
Here, a partnership of local people and scientists from around the world set up the first biomeridian in the winter of 2017-2018. The methods are still being worked out, more sensors and cameras are steadily being added.
Protected as the core of Nepal’s Makalu-Barun National Park, it still holds its natural balances. At the top are no resident life forms; further down are lichens, spiders, then plants and animals. This one valley system encompasses the wild diversity of Asia; it has, for example, all three species of leopard: common spotted, the exotic snow leopard, and the rare clouded leopard.
Land quadrant monitoring stations have been designated up the valley where all species in that quadrant are visually identified. At each station, in addition to visual monitoring is also audio with recorders with enhanced microphones that monitor birds and insects not only during the day but also the night, and through the cycle of 365 days of the year.
Importantly, north of the Barun Valley and parallel to it, also falling off Everest-Lhotse-Makalu, is a valley with drier biomes. In China’s Tibet is the Gama Valley, also pristine, with its valley bottom in the warm temperate zone extending up to the arctic. The Mount Everest biomeridian project will install monitoring stations through both valleys, one in Nepal and the second in China.
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