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Title: Notes on high elevation research : with selected bibliography
Authors: Alford, Donald L.
Keywords: Environment
Environmental effects
High altitudes
High elevations
Military operations
Publisher: Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory (U.S.)
Engineer Research and Development Center (U.S.)
Series/Report no.: Special report (Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory (U.S.)) ; 78.
Description: Special Report
General Statement: The ability to operate efficiently under a given enyironmental condition is a prerequisite for the success of any military operation. Efficient operation presupposes an intimate knowledge of the magnitude of significant environmental features and their effect on men and material. While a great deal of information is presently available on this subject dealing with such diverse environments as polar, desert and tropical we presently have only limited knowledge of the environment from 14,000 to 18,000 feet and only superficial knowledge of the high alpine environment which exists above 18,000 feet on the earth's surface. That the question of operating in this environment is not wholly academic was demonstrated by the activities of the Indian and Chinese armies at elevations up to 21,000 ft in the Himalayas in 1962. Based upon the assumption that it may become necessary in the future to conduct research into this mountain environment, certain preliminary studies were,made in early 1963 by USA CRREL. It is the purpose of this paper to record some of the initial findings. For the most part, the paper represents the results of an extensive literature survey conducted by the writer during 1963 and some of the conclusions which were drawn at that time. This survey was made in order to define as concisely as possible the problems which might be encountered at extreme elevations, to learn the extent of our present knowledge of the various parameters which might affect military operations, and to provide a basic fund of knowledge on which further planning could be based. A statement of those problems which appear initially to be of the greatest interest both scientifically and militarily is combined with an outline of previous work. It should be emphasized that the principal conclusion to be drawn from the literature is that very little quantitative research has been done in regions of extreme elevation. Scientific work in the past has been performed as a secondary objective by expeditions whose main concern was the ascent of high mountains. This paper is primarily concerned with the valley floors, mountain passes, and immediately adjacent slopes, since these are most pertinent from the standpoint of military operations. The literature search has led to two conclusions: (1) Very little research can be conducted on an expeditionary basis, and (2) Previous workers have had to spend so much time simply combatting the environment that they were able to make little if any significant contribution to our understanding of it. A general plan for a high-elevation research program is outlined in Appendix A, but no attempt is made to suggest definite research projects in a high-elevation environment. The field is far too broad for anyone person to devise pertinent experiments in all fields which should be investigated. The actual design of research projects should be left to those who are competent in the various disciplines. Many of the specific problem areas are self evident; many others probably will not become apparent until initial studies have been completed. All are associated in some way with the decreased atmospheric pressure or the topography. While the statements contained in the following sections should apply generally to regions of extreme elevations, they are derived primarily from the literature dealing with the Central Asian mountain systems.
Rights: Approved for public release; distribution is unlimited.
Appears in Collections:Special Report

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