China is beefing up weather stations on Mount Everest to monitor global warming and prepare for an expedition that hopes to take the Olympic torch to the summit of the world's highest mountain, state media said on Thursday.
Six observatories, including two that have yet to go into operation, will give detailed hourly updates on weather conditions and shorter summaries over 15 to 30 minutes, the official Xinhua News Agency said.
Beijing's plans to take the torch to Everest have angered some Tibetan independence activists who see it as an attempt by the Chinese government to underscore its claim on the remote Himalayan region.
China says it has ruled Tibet for centuries, although many Tibetans say their homeland was an independent state for most of that time. Chinese troops occupied Tibet in 1951, and Beijing continues to rule the region with a heavy hand.
Wu Shihong, an official with Tibet Meteorological Bureau, was quoted as saying the stations would "provide concrete statistics to ensure a successful Olympic torch relay."
The stations will also help study long-term climate change in the area, Wu said.
The observatories are located between Base Camp at 5,200 meters (17,060 feet) and an elevation of 6,200 meters (20,340 feet) above sea level, Xinhua said.