Vanishing Lake: The Mysterious Disappearance Of Lake Waiau, Hawaii’s Only Alpine Lake

Vanishing Lake: Lake Waiau, Hawaii’s only alpine lake mysteriously drains!

There is a problem happening here! But nobody understands why!

Lake Waiau photo, Lake Waiau, Lake Waiau loses water, Lake Waiau has disappeared, Lake Waiau problem, Lake Waiau drainage, Lake Waiau disappearance, Lake Waiau disappears, Lake Waiau in Hawaii shrunk to the size of a pond in just a few years. Scientists still aren't sure why the lake began to dry up. Photo: USGS
Lake Waiau in Hawaii shrunk to the size of a pond in just a few years. Scientists still aren’t sure why the lake began to dry up. Photo: USGS

A lake isn’t a permanent fixture of the landscape. Some lakes naturally come and go from year to year, as the flow of water into and out of them changes throughout the months. For others, though, once they are gone, they are gone forever. But the causes of their disappearances are varied. For example, the Aral Sea has almost completely dried up because of a bad water politic.

But, in the case of Lake Waiau, Hawaii, the origin of the drying up remains unknown. Hawaii’s only alpine lake was never a very big lake with its 6,900 square meters at its maximum and 3 meters in depth. But it was considered sacred to native Hawaiians. According to myth, the lake was bottomless and a portal to the spirit world.

But in early 2010, the lake started to shrink, and by September 2013, the lake was little more than a pond, covering a mere 115 square meters and reaching a depth of less than 30 centimeters. The cause of the lake’s decline is currently unknown, but drought is among the suspects.

Could the disappearance of the lake be linked to phenomena hidden underground? Is permafrost altering the water balance in the lake? Is a giant sinkhole draining the lake? I don’t know, but there is something going on there!

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