East Island of Hawaii fell victim to the wrath of Hurricane Walaka. It was unable to resist the fury of the strong winds and disappeared. Its area was slightly more than 11 acres and scientists checked satellite images to confirm that the inevitable has happened. The island was a part of a protected marine area in the northwestern Hawaiian Islands and home to the endangered Hawaiian monk seal and Green sea turtles.

The Guardian UK reports the probable reason to be rising sea levels because of global warming. In the opinion of experts, the dual effect of these two factors is eroding low-lying islands.

This is causing loss of fragments of land in the Pacific. Chip Fletcher, a professor of earth sciences at the University of Hawaii, has described the loss as a “huge blow.”

Loss of East Island portends an uncertain future

Chip Fletcher has explained that the age of East Island was probably one to two thousand years. He and his team had been there in July.

The Guardian adds that they planned to study the island by using drone videos and taking samples of sand and corals. The length of the island was half a mile and breadth 400ft wide, and the purpose of their study was to ascertain its age and try to predict its future in view of climate change. There used to be a US Coast Guard radar station on the island until 1952.

Incidentally, East Island played an important role for the preservation of wildlife. One of these is the Hawaiian monk seal that belongs to the list of critically endangered species with a population of hardly 1400. Green sea turtles are another equally threatened species that have made this island their home. Loss of the island has robbed them of their natural habitat, and scientists believe that climate change is a contributory factor.

As Randy Kosaki, a senior official of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has said – “climate change is real and it’s happening now.”

Frequency of Hurricanes is on the rise

According to CNN, Hurricane Walaka that struck Hawaii was a powerful Category 5 storm with wind speeds of more than 150 mph. Chip Fletcher has blamed global warming which leads to warmer weather and warmer waters that are giving rise to stronger storms. He cautions that the probability of other islands disappearing underwater like East Island is very much there. This island is about 550 miles northwest of Honolulu and uninhabited. Most of the islands here are tiny slices of sand and gravel that sit on top of a submerged, extinct volcano. If the sea level rise is slow, the islands can adapt but they become vulnerable when sea level rise is rapid.