Science

Hawaiian island erased by powerful hurricane

Hawaiian island erased by powerful hurricane”

Although experts can not directly trace the shrinking of East Island to the effects of climate change, Clark said, it contributes to the strength and frequency of hurricanes like the one that overtook the island.

The islands in that area are mostly tiny slices of sand and gravel sitting on top of a submerged, extinct volcano.

East Island is part of the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, a 1,350-mile-long stretch of coral islands, banks, seamounts, and shoals.

Hurricane Walaka, which struck East Island earlier this month, has been recorded as the second-strongest tropical cyclone to wreak havoc on the central Pacific.

"It's a really powerful example of the power and potential of nature that overnight an island was washed away", Littnan said. The U.S. government organization confirmed island appeared to be under water following the hurricane in a statement released on Tuesday.

Despite its size, the island played an important role for wildlife, including the critically endangered Hawaiian monk seal, a species that numbers just 1,400 individuals, with numerous seals raising their young on East Island.

The island served as a key habitat to several species of creatures, and it remains to be seen how the place's disappearance beneath the waves will affect them in the long run. Most of the turtles had already left the island by the time the storm hit.

"It's one more chink in the wall of the network of ecosystem diversity on this planet that is being dismantled".

Called East Island, it was located in an atoll known as the French Frigate Shoals, 885 kilometers (550 miles) from Honolulu.

Many of them raised their young on the island.

But it is possible that East Island will resurface and the turtles and seals will return to their seasonal homes.

Randy Kosaki, the monument's deputy superintendent for research and field operations for NOAA, told Honolulu CB: "The take home message is climate change is real and it's happening now". But climate change is warming the ocean and atmosphere, leading to more powerful and frequent storms.

Charles Littnan, the director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's protected species division, told HuffPost that it will take years to assess the ramifications of the island's loss.



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