We have known for years now that climate change will and is causing storms to become larger, more dangerous and more powerful. As ocean temperatures warm, they increase the ability for the storm to grow and produce more evaporation which leads to more moisture in the atmosphere and intensified rainfall. For example, we now know that the rainfall from Hurricane Harvey was 15 percent more intense and three times as likely to occur due to human-induced climate change.
Now, we are seeing the direct impact of the storms to our planet and it is terrifying. In early October, Hurricane Walaka made its way through Hawaii, causing destruction across the Pacific. Now, researchers have discovered that the hurricane actually wiped an entire island off the map.
The island, called East Island, was located in an atoll known as the French Frigate Shoals, 550 miles away from Honolulu.
The island, which measured 11 acres across and a half mile long, was made up of mostly sand. Although not large on a global scale, the island was in the second largest in the atoll and hosted a US Coast Guard Station since 1952. As well, the island had been a vital nesting ground for threatened green se turtles and a nursery for monk seals.
After the storm, satellite images from the US Fish and Wildlife Service revealed that the island had been completely submerged by the island.
For our planet to stay under the 2 degrees Celsius mark set by the Paris Climate Accords, humans need to take dramatic action in the new few years to ensure this does not happen. If action is not taken, it will be islands and shorelines that are inhabited by millions of people and animals that will be losing their homes.