USGS/Hawaiian Volcano Observatory

Hawaii's Sacred Lake Shrinking Fast

The only alpine lake in Hawaii has nearly dried up, scientists report in Eos. At 3970 m above sea level, Lake Waiau is close to the summit of Mauna Kea, which native Hawaiians have considered the connection between Earth and the heavens. Some placed the umbilical cords of their children in the lake as a wish for long life. But the lake itself is dying, having shriveled from about 100 meters wide and 3 meters deep in 2009 to less than 10 meters wide and about 20 centimeters deep. The scientists monitoring the shrinkage say it is “unusual, if not unprecedented, in the available historical record.” They attribute it to a drought that began in 2008.

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