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How is climate change impacting Easter Island?

A New York Times article,  Easter Island Is Eroding, (3/15/18 by  Casey and Haner) has the answer.

Tourists usually begin their days in Tongariki, where they gather to watch the sunrise from behind a line of monoliths facing inland. Groups split off to Anakena, the island’s one sandy beach, or to the ancient platforms at Akahanga, a sprawling site of former villages on the shore where, tradition holds, the island’s mythical founder, Hotu Matu’a, is buried in a stone grave.

Yet all three sites now stand to be eroded by rising waters, scientists say.

“We don’t want people seeing these places through old photos,” Mr. Rapu said.

A beach is already lost:

The damage has been swift on Ovahe Beach, near where Mr. Huke came across bones in the sun. For generations, there had been a sandy beach here that was popular with tourists and locals. Nearby, a number of unmarked burial sites were covered with stones.

Now the waves have carried off almost all of the sand, leaving jagged volcanic stone. The burial sites have been damaged and it’s not clear how long they will survive the waves.

Walls collapsing:

At a site called Ura Uranga Te Mahina on the island’s southern coast, park officials were alarmed last year when blocks of a stone wall perched about 10 feet above a rocky coast collapsed after being battered by waves.

There is more and the article has fantastic photos.

About Thomas J. Pfaff

Thomas J. Pfaff is a Professor of Mathematics at Ithaca College. He created this website because he believes that sustainability, ranging from climate change to social justice, should be included in all courses whenever possible.

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