Johnston Atoll, also known as Kalama Atoll to Native Hawaiians, is an unincorporated territory of the United States currently administered by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) of the Department of the Interior as part of the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument. The islands are visited annually by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Public entry is only by special-use permit and generally restricted to scientists and educators.
For nearly 70 years, the atoll was under the control of the American military. In that time it was used as a bird sanctuary, as a naval refueling depot, as an airbase, for nuclear and biological weapons testing, for space recovery, as a secret missile base, and as a chemical weapon and Agent Orange storage and disposal site. These activities left the area environmentally contaminated and remediation and monitoring continue. In 2004 the U.S. military base was closed and control was handed over to civilian authorities of the United States Government.
Johnston Atoll is an uninhabited 1,300 ha atoll in the North Pacific Ocean located about 750 nautical miles (1,390 kilometres) southwest of the island of Hawaii and is grouped as one of the United States Minor Outlying Islands. The atoll, which is located on a coral reef platform, has four islands. Johnston (or Kalama) Island and Sand Island are both enlarged natural features, while Akau (North) and Hikina (East) are two artificial islands formed by coral dredging. The four islands compose a total land mass of 2.67 km². Due to the atoll's tilt, much of the reef on the southeast portion has subsided. But even though it does not have an encircling reef crest, the reef crest on the northwest portion of the atoll does provide for a shallow lagoon, with depths ranging from 3-10 metres. With elevation ranging from sea level to 5 metres at Summit Peak, the islands contain some low-growing vegetation and palm trees on mostly flat terrain and no natural fresh water resources.
The climate is tropical but generally dry. Northeast trade winds are consistent and there is little seasonal temperature variation.
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