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Into Not So Thin Air—How Global Warming Is Altering Oxygen Levels on Everest

Into Not So Thin Air—How Global Warming Is Altering Oxygen Levels on Everest

Even if you have, there’s some interesting work being done about atmospheric pressure changing as the planet warms, and what that means for oxygen saturation levels at various elevations. A new study, available for free (refreshingly) at iScience shows how oxygen levels change at Everest’s highest elevation depending on air pressure, and with warmer summers the air pressure will be higher, meaning more oxygen should be available near the summit. You can actually, well, typically, anyway, infer the amount of oxygen available at a given elevation by examining the air pressure/elevation relationship. The same is true for all other 8,000-meter peaks on the planet, simply because they lie in the subtropical zone, and have access to slightly warmer air. As pressure increases, oxygen molecules pack tightly together, increasing the amount of oxygen in a given mix of gasses, like our atmosphere.

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