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which are understood. As Chapters 4 and 5 show, there are techniques by which the utility of forecasts can be improved and methods by which the utility of the forecasts and their effects on recipients can be evaluated.

Useful applications of climate information to societal problems are beginning to be made, mostly in a haphazard and disorganized manner. Nevertheless, the practical potential of seasonal-to-interannual climate forecasts to produce socially beneficial information is beginning to become apparent. To realize fully this potential, it is necessary to conduct systematic investigations in pursuit of two goals:


understanding the potential and actual consequences of improved seasonal-to-interannual forecasts, and


making these forecasts more useful.

This chapter summarizes the panel's findings and outlines a series of scientific questions, the investigation of which will help society approach these goals.


Climate Forecasting and Its Uses

Uncertainty is embedded in climate forecasts because of the chaotic processes inherent in the atmospheric system.

The skill of climate predictions varies by geographic region, by climate parameter, and by time scale.

Research addressed to questions framed by climate science is not necessarily useful to all. A climate forecast is useful to a particular recipient only if it is sufficiently skillful, timely, and relevant to actions the recipient can take to make it possible to undertake behavioral changes that improve outcomes.

Progress in measuring and modeling ocean-atmosphere interactions is likely to improve predictive skill in regions and for climatic parameters for which very limited skill now exists, thus increasing the potential for forecasts to be useful in new regions and for new purposes.

The utility of forecasts can be increased by systematic efforts to bring scientific output and users' needs closer together. These efforts may include both analytic efforts to identify the climatic parameters to which particular sectors or groups are highly sensitive or vulnerable and social processes that foster continual interaction between the producers and the consumers of forecasts.

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