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  • In October 2018, the Pacific Ocean brewed one of most intense hurricanes ever recorded,

  • AND it hit one of the most remote places in the world.

  • With so much force, it eliminated an entire island overnight.

  • But this isn't the first time an island has vanished.

  • It's part of a trend, so what's behind it?

  • The island we're talking about is East Island, located about 890 km northwest of Honolulu,

  • Hawaii.

  • It may not seem like much - only 11-acres, but it's part of one of the world's largest

  • protected marine areas.

  • The region was home to diversity rarely found anywhere else on earth.

  • It was a nesting ground for over 95% of the Hawaiian endangered green sea turtle population

  • and about 200 critically endangered Monk seals visit the area each year.

  • Or used to?

  • And considering there's only 1,400 of these monk seals left in the state, it's a big

  • deal.

  • East island is now a mere 46 meter patch of sand and scientists estimate about 95% of

  • the islet is underwater.

  • Scientists don't know if this critical habitat will bounce back anytime soon, and are very

  • concerned, since islands just don't disappear overnight, right?

  • It takes years and years of erosion.

  • But islands are disappearing faster and it's becoming more common.

  • Scientists have observed entire islands swallowed whole from sea level rise in a matter of a

  • few short years.

  • From 2007 to 2014 alone, 6 low-lying islands in Micronesia vanished without a trace.

  • Those were uninhabited, but as recently as 2017, people of the Carteret Islands of Papua

  • New Guinea are leaving their island homes for higher ground.

  • As they avoid the rising sea levels, they also face dying trees, scarcity of food, and

  • freshwater.

  • They aren't the only ones either.

  • The Maldives, Fiji, Marshall Islands, Republic of Kiribati, and Torres Strait Islands are

  • all being affected by rising sea Island nations across the globe are facing these same obstacles

  • because they're the most vulnerable to the results of climate change

  • But wait, East Island didn't disappear from sea level rise, that was the fault of Hurricane

  • Walaka.

  • Well there's a connection, because sea level rise can actually make the consequences of

  • hurricanes worse.Higher sea levels means stronger storm surges, which create higher floods of

  • water that move further inland.

  • Like the one that hit East Island that came from Hurricane Wakala.

  • Hurricane Walaka was actually one of two major tropical storms in the pacific; one on each

  • side of the ocean that reached Category 5 at the same time meaning they were forming

  • over 250 kilometer per hour winds.

  • Not only is this intense, but it's highly unusual behavior.

  • On top of that, Hurricane Walaka was much further north than most hurricanes travel.

  • Scientists speculate that's because the Pacific's waters are warming.

  • See, typically hurricanes are near the equator because that's where warmer waters are.

  • Tropical storms form when warm air rises from warm water, causing low air pressure underneath

  • it.

  • Nearby, higher pressure air will then push into the low air pressure, and that new air

  • becomes warm and rises up.

  • Nearby air will then come in and take the warm air's place as it rises.

  • In the upper atmosphere the warm air cools down and creates clouds.

  • This becomes a swirling system of hot and cold air being fed by the ocean's heat and

  • water evaporation.

  • In theory more energy is released into the storm when there is a larger temperature between

  • the warm water and upper atmosphere.

  • Although climate scientists debate and can't directly link storms to climate change, they

  • all agree that warm waters also cause stronger storms.

  • And let's face it, the pacific ocean is getting mighty toasty.

  • It turns out that 2017 was a record-breaking year for ocean waters.

  • But hurricanes are not just getting severe in some far off distance place in the Pacific,

  • we can see the intensity from the Atlantic as well.

  • The recent North Carolina hurricane dropped over 75 cm of water on parts of North Carolina

  • and many areas were flooded and blocked off.

  • As for East Island, we'll see how it fairs.

  • NOAA will monitor the islands progress to see how the animals respond to their habitat

  • loss, and what they find will help them manage the species.

  • Some monk seals can already be seen lifting themselves up on the small patch left behind.

  • So yes, sea levels are rising, hurricanes are getting worse, and they're wiping places

  • off the map.

  • While we can't witness what's going on beyond our backyards..it's all happening

  • right now, even if we can't see it.

  • Islands may be disappearing, but you know what won't vanish?

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  • They have over three hundred domain extensions to fit your needs, from dot club to dot space,

  • dot pizza!

  • Take that first step in creating an identity online and visit domain dot com.

  • Want updates on the status of your earth, subscribe!

  • And check out this video to hear what happens if global temperatures get too warm by just

  • 2 degrees celsius.

  • It's a doozy.

  • Also the strongest hurricane ever recorded in history was Hurricane Patricia back in

  • 2015 which reached up to 346 kilometer per hour winds.

  • Thanks for watching and I'll see you next time on Seeker

In October 2018, the Pacific Ocean brewed one of most intense hurricanes ever recorded,

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What Happens When an Island Completely Disappears?

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    joey joey posted on 2021/04/18
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