NDAWN, North Dakota State University, Fargo, ND, U.S.A.
The ability to know what future weather conditions will be can provide substantial economic benefits. Medium-range forecasts in the 6–10 day range are often accurate enough to allow preparations to be made before a change in the weather occurs. A proactive approach can save both human lives and money. The benefits of proactive approaches are clear, yet predictions become more difficult the farther into the future you try to forecast. There are known global impacts on weather patterns resulting from the temporal and spatial distribution of ocean sea-surface temperature anomalies. These fluctuations work within seasonal and even decadal time scales. The most well-known of these oceanic thermal fluctuations are El Niño and La Niña events, which occur over the equatorial Pacific Ocean and are part of a broader oscillation of surface wind movements. Although not perfected, our understanding of how oceanic phenomena impact atmospheric patterns offers clues to what the general weather conditions may be in certain parts of the world in upcoming months. These clues can offer prospects for higher economic benefits gained from utilizing seasonal forecasts for those who are willing to take a greater risk.
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