Climate News Recap: Heat Record Ratios Rise, Underestimated Extinction Rates & More on Siberian Methane

Here's what's catching our eye in the latest climate headlines. Mostly grim stuff no doubt but this is the climate we're creating, and being forced to adapt to. Time to face the music.

New Heat Records Continue Outpacing Record Lows & Are Increasing
Over time the ratio of new heat records to new cold records should be about 1:1, but as TreeHugger has written about on several occasions, as the the climate warms this is skewing towards many more heat records being set. In 2010 the ratio was 2.3:, record heat to record cold. Think Progress points out new research showing that in 2011 though the annual ratio was 2.8-to-1. For the 2000s the ratio was 2.04:1, in the 90s it was 1.36:1, in the 80s 1.14:1. Going back farther, in the 1950s it was 1.09:1, followed by some slight cooling with about a 0.77:1 ratio of hot to cold records being set. Climate models show that by the end of this century, under a business-as-usual emissions scenario where there is no constraint in the amount of greenhouse gas emissions pumped into the atmosphere that ratio could climb to 50:1.

Climate Models May "Grossly" Underestimate Extinction Rates
New research shows that current climate models may be "grossly" underestimate the rate of animal and plant extinction. "In real life, animals move around, they compete, they parasitize each other and eat each other. The majority of our predictions don't include these important interactions": Mark Urban, University of Connecticut.

More on the Potential Risk of Methane Bubbling From the Siberian Seafloor
Further reinforcement of the notion that while permafrost melting is certainly a cause for concern due to the global warming potential of trapped methane, at least where the Siberian seafloor is concerned, well, not so much. Quoted from Dot Earth's latest on the subject:

The methane bubbles coming from the Siberian shelf are part of a system that takes centuries to respond to changes in temperature. The methane from the Arctic lakes is also potentially part of a new, enhanced, chronic methane release to the atmosphere. Neither of them could release a catastrophic amount of methane (hundreds of Gtons) within a short time frame (a few years or less). There isn’t some huge bubble of methane waiting to erupt as soon as its roof melts.

How Much Will Melting Arctic Ice Reduce Shipping Emissions?
A very interesting question, posed by GreenBiz:

Savings in time and cost go without saying, but do the GHG emissions savings reaped by an open Arctic offset those emitted by the melting of the Arctic itself? While the direct emissions saved from Arctic shipping may be significant in the context of shipping emissions overall, the net emissions scenario of an open Arctic are unlikely to offset the warming Arctic, not by a long shot.

Perhaps intuitive but read the piece linked above for the relevant stats.

Bangladesh's Farmers Already Switching to Climate-Resistant Crops
The effects of climate change may seem distant for many TreeHugger readers (they aren't, but that's another story...), but for farmers in Bangladesh they are very much immediate—and they are already taking action to adapt, switching to climate-resistant varieties of rice, wheat, and other staple crops. IPS News says:

The rice variety that Sabera resorted to, developed last year by the Bangladesh Institute of Nuclear Agriculture (BINA,) withstands floods, drought and pest attacks and gives 4.5 - 5.5 tonnes per hectare compared to regular varieties which yield a maximum of three tonnes per hectare.

"The ‘BINA Dhan-7’ variety holds extra benefit for farmers. It can be sown during the monga (lean season beginning September) or while regular varieties are still maturing in the fields. So, in a sense, it is an additional crop harvested in shorter duration," Abdus Salam, head of research at BINA, told IPS.

More examples as the above link.

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