Global warming’s extreme rains threaten Hawaii’s coral reefs

Runoff from severe storms are damaging coral reefs off the coast of Hawaii.

By

National News

April 27, 2021 - 9:20 AM

HONOLULU (AP) — As muddy rainwater surged from Hawaii’s steep seaside mountains and inundated residential communities last month, the damage caused by flooding was obvious — houses were destroyed and businesses swamped, landslides covered highways and raging rivers and streams were clogged with debris. 

But extreme rain events predicted to become more common with human-caused global warming not only wreak havoc on land — the runoff from these increasingly severe storms also threatens Hawaii’s coral reefs. 

“These big events are the ones that have the greatest damage because they are the ones that put the most sediment and nutrients out onto the reef,” said C. Mark Eakin, senior coral advisor to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the former director of the agency’s Coral Reef Watch program. 

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