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Recent advances in atmospheric and ocean sciences and a better understanding of the global climate have led to skillful climate forecasts at seasonal to interannual timescales, even in midlatitudes. These scientific advances and forecasting capabilities have opened the door to practical applications that benefit society. The benefits include the reduction of weather/climate related risks and vulnerability, increased economic opportunities, enhanced food security, mitigation of adverse climate impacts, protection of environmental quality, and so forth.

Agriculture in particular can benefit substantially from accurate long-lead seasonal climate forecasts. Indeed, agricultural production very much depends on weather, climate, and water availability, and unexpected departures from anticipated climate conditions can thwart the best laid management plans. Timely climate forecasts offer means to reduce losses in drought years, increase profitability in good years, deal more effectively with climate variability, and choose from targeted risk-management strategies. In addition to benefiting farmers, forecasts can also help marketing systems and downstream users prepare for anticipated production outcomes and associated consequences.