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East Island in Hawaii was destroyed by a powerful hurricane

An island in Hawaii was washed away by a powerful hurricane. East Island, a remote spit of gravel and sand that sat atop a coral reef, has vanished into contact with Hurricane Walaka, an intense storm that surged past Hawaii earlier this month.

Scientists have confirmed the disappearance of the 11-acre island after comparing satellite images. Satellite images distributed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service show the spit of white sand almost entirely erased. “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, a professor of earth sciences at the University of Hawaii. „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,” he added.

transformation-after-hurricane
Transformation in the area after hurricane

East Island was, at about half a mile long and 400ft wide, the second largest island in the the French Frigate Shoals, an atoll in the far western reaches of the Hawaiian archipelago. It played an important role for wildlife, including the critically endangered Hawaiian monk seal, a species that numbers just 1,400 individuals, green sea turtles and seabirds such as albatrosses. Climate change is causing the ocean and atmosphere to warm, making storms fiercer. This month the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the leading United Nations consortium of researchers studying human-caused climate change, issued a dire warning about the threats the world now faces.

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