Hawaiian Island wiped off by a powerful hurricane

In an intense hurricane that hit Hawaii last month, East island has vanished altogether.

The East Island was a remote spit of sand and gravel atop a coral reef until it came in contact with Hurricane Walaka and disappeared.

The disappearance of East Island has been confirmed by scientists after comparing satellite images of an enormous protected marine area in Northwestern Hawaiian islands called the French Frigate Shoals.

“The island was probably one to two thousand years old and we were only there in July, so for it to be lost right now is pretty bad luck,” said Chip Fletcher, professor of Earth sciences at the University of Hawaii. Fletcher and his colleagues were in the process of researching this 11-acre island through drone videos to ascertain the age of the island by taking samples of corals and sand.

“We wanted to monitor the island so we are disappointed it has gone, but on the other hand, we have learned these islands are far more at risk than we thought. I thought the island would be around for a decade or two longer, but it’s far more fragile than I appreciated. The top, middle, and bottom of it has gone.” Fletcher said.

(Satellite) images appear to show alterations to Tern Island, and East Island appears to be underwater

The second largest island in the French Frigate Shoals, the East island is 400 ft wide and about half a mile long. It played a very important role for wildlife and in fact hosted a US coast guard radar station until 1952. It was home to about 1400 critically endangered hawaiian monk seals, green sea turtles and seabirds such as albatrosses.

Climate change is having unimaginable effects on our planet. Rising sea levels are washing away low-lying islands like East Island. Climate change is responsible for making the atmosphere warm, making hurricanes fiercer and the atolls are always at risk of being erased.

What is French Frigate Shoals?

Located in the far western reaches of the Hawaiian Archipelago, French Frigate Shoal is the largest marine reserve in the world after it was expanded in 2016 by Obama administration. The French Frigate shoal features a riot of life including fish, birds, corals and mammals.

“We will continue to monitor the species and islands to better assess the impacts from the hurricane. Based on the data, managers will determine next steps and management actions.” Fletcher said.

The message is clear. Climate change is real and it’s happening now.

@source: The Guardian

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