Geography Essay

2187 words - 9 pages

Introduction and Climate

The state of Hawaii is composed of 132 islands, reefs and shoals that extend for over 1500 miles across the central North Pacific Ocean from the "Big Island" of Hawaii to midway and Kure Atolls. The eight main islands of Hawaiian Archipelago include Hawaii, Maui, Oahu, Kauai, Molokai, Lanai, Nihau and Kahoolawe (listed in order of size) which extend for only 350 miles at the south-eastern end of the volcanic mountain chain. Hawaii includes some of the earth’s largest mountains, rising from oceanic depths of greater than 18,000 feet to a height above sea level of nearly 14,000 feet. Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa on the Big Island are volcanic mountains with a total relief of 32,000 feet. The entire Island of Hawaii, with its five large volcanoes of Kahala, Mauna Kea, Hualalai, Mauna Loa, and kilauea, and Loihi, is less than 450,000 years old. Kauai and Niihau, at five million years, are the oldest of the main Islands (Kauai on line).

Kauai, "The Garden Isle," is 552.3 square miles and the population is 50,947. It is geologically the most mature of the main Hawaiian Islands with extensive development of broad, lush erosional valleys and coastal features such as coral/algae reefs and sandy beaches. Waimea Canyon, at over 2500 feet deep, is Hawaii’s largest erosional valley. Nearly 50% of Kauai’s 111 miles of coastline are lined with beautiful beaches, derived mainly from erosion on reef producing coral and algae. Kauai is the fourth largest of the seven major islands in the chain and was built by a massive volcano, of which Mount Waialeale, at 5,148 feet, is the eastern rim.

Kauai is located in Polynesia and in the center of the Pacific Ocean. It’s 22N of the equator and 158W and is located just below the Tropic of Cancer. Being one of the most remote spots and earth, 2500 miles west of California, the biology on the Island is very amazing. Kauai has a wide variety of plant, marine, and animal life. Many species are rare and endangered including Hawaii’s only freshwater fish, the oopo (Atlas).

     Kauai has an ideal climate with average temperatures near the coast of 71 in February and March and 79 in August and September. Cooler temperatures in the mountain areas such as Kokee offer a pleasant contrast. The North Shore also averages about 5 to 7 degrees cooler that the other inhabited parts of Kauai. Rainfall varies widely, with an average day having sunshine on the beaches and showers in the mountains. The West side of the Island has near desert-like conditions, while the summit of Waialeale is the wettest spot in the world, with an average rainfall of almost 500 inches per year. Normally, the rugged, mountainous interior has much more rainfall than the coastal areas where most communities are located. The Maritime Tropical air mass highly influences Kalalau Valley, Kauai. With its warm and humid weather that it brings in we see how the Island of Kauai goes from stable to...

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