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

  • FILE - In this Sept. 12, 2019, file photo, fish swim near coral in Kahalu‘u Bay in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii. Flooding in March 2021 in Hawaii caused widespread and obvious damage. But extreme regional rain events that are predicted to become more common with global warming do not only wreak havoc on land, the runoff from these increasingly severe storms is also threatening Hawaii’s coral reefs. (AP Photo/Caleb Jones, File)

  • In this Nov. 23, 2003, photo provided by Ku’ulei Rodgers, muddy floodwater flows over a nearshore coral reef off the Hawaiian Island of Lanai after a heavy rainstorm. Flooding in March 2021, in Hawaii caused widespread and obvious damage. But extreme regional rain events that are predicted to become more common with global warming do not only wreak havoc on land, the runoff from these increasingly severe storms is also threatening Hawaii’s coral reefs. (Ku’ulei Rodgers/University of Hawaii via AP)

  • In this Nov. 23, 2003, photo provided by Ku’ulei Rodgers, sediment covers coral off of the Hawaiian Island of Lanai after a heavy rainstorm. Flooding in March 2021 in Hawaii caused widespread and obvious damage. But extreme regional rain events that are predicted to become more common with global warming do not only wreak havoc on land, the runoff from these increasingly severe storms is also threatening Hawaii’s coral reefs. (Ku’ulei Rodgers/University of Hawaii via AP)

  • FILE - In this Sept. 13, 2019, file photo, Greg Asner, left, director of the Center for Global Discovery and Conservation Science at Arizona State University, prepares to dive on a coral reef off the Big Island near Captain Cook, Hawaii. Flooding in March 2021 in Hawaii caused widespread and obvious damage, and the runoff from these increasingly severe storms is also threatening Hawaii’s coral reefs. Although coral reefs worldwide face threats from global warming, including marine heatwaves that bleach and kill coral, storm runoff could prove a more serious and immediate threat to reefs in the state. “In Hawaii, I would rate runoff much higher than marine heatwaves in driving coral decline,” said Asner. (AP Photo/Caleb Jones, File)

  • FILE - In this March 8, 2021, file photo, floodwaters sweep over Maui’s Hana Highway in Haiku, Hawaii, after heavy rains caused a dam to overflow and nearby residents in the community were evacuated. Recent flooding in Hawaii caused widespread and obvious damage. But extreme regional rain events that are predicted to become more common with global warming do not only wreak havoc on land, the runoff from these increasingly severe storms is also threatening Hawaii’s coral reefs. (Kehaulani Cerizo/The Maui News via AP, File)

HONOLULU — 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.