New German island rises out of the sea, but for how long?

Scott Sutherland

Islands around the world are vanishing and appearing so often lately that you'd think we were in a spy movie or a comic book.

The latest addition to the map is Norderoogsand, a roughly 10-square-kilometer patch of sand just off of Germany's North Coast.

"The fact that in just a few years a new island is formed is very impressive," said Dr. Detlef Hansen, according to the Austrian Times. Hansen is the head of the Wadden Sea National Park, where the island surfaced. "For conservationists this is anything but ordinary. This hasn't happened here in over 25 years."

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It didn't happen quickly, like it did with the new island in the Red Sea. There wasn't an error on the maps that just got perpetuated forward for hundreds of years, like with that island in the south Pacific. This island build up over the past 10 years — which is still fairly quick when we're talking about an island — due to the natural buildup of sand from tides and wind, with a little boost from grasses taking root and a lengthy break from any major storm surges.

"The unique chance of tides, winds and sea kept it intact and now we have dunes four metres high, grasses and bird colonies," said Hansen.

The island might not be a permanent feature of the coastline now, though. Even with the size of the island and the grass roots to add some stability to it, one good storm surge could send it right back beneath the waves.

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"All we can do is watch and hope that a sudden flood doesn't wipe it all away again." said Hansen.

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