On Friday, the US Geological Survey put out a press release about its new findings on polar bears and their future, and the press responded en masse: Google offers hundreds of stories filed over the weekend. The reports’ conclusion (AP | New York Times) is that diminishing sea ice is a serious problem for the bears, with two thirds of them at risk over the next fifty years
Just when everyone was getting sick of explaining that climate models are producing projections not predictions per se, it seems that some of them are indeed producing predictions. There’s a paper (pdf) in Science from a team at the Hadley Center that shows how using real initial conditions improves the accuracy of ten year climate forecasts. They do a bit for hindcasting first, looking at historical data and comparing model runs with real initial conditions with run-of-the-mill runs. Then they do some prediction. This prediction is being treated as saying that we’re at the end of a little plateau, and that at the end of this decade things will warm up further, giving a run of years in the early 2010s where the chances for new global records are good.
Over at News@nature, Mike Hopkin reports from the Ecological Society of America’s meeting in San Jose on research into tropical forest growth rates. Looking at plots in Panama and Malaysia, the researchers found that increases in mean daily minimum temperature over a couple of decades correlated with decreases in growth rates. They associate this with lower net photosynthetic activity.