Weather Observation and Analysis
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Chapter 13. FRONTS AND
13.1 Fronts as Temperature Gradients
Fronts were first discovered during World War I, and the name
was adopted by analogy to the fronts of battle during the war.
from a weather network covering a significant hunk of territory was
regularly transmitted and plotted at a central location, it was difficult to
recognize the patterns behind the sudden weather changes at different
Today, fronts, along with highs and lows, are the most common
features of weather maps, and even children are able to recognize the
Nonetheless the working definition of a front remains somewhat
elusive, and the decision about where a front lies is a judgment call that
experienced weather analysts can disagree about.
The basic definition of a
front is a narrow, elongated zone with a locally strong temperature
But how narrow is narrow, how elongated is elongated, and how
strong is strong?
Some have argued that, because of this ambiguity, we should
dispense with the concepts of fronts entirely and simply let the analyses of
temperature, wind, pressure, etc. speak for themselves.
Such an approach
is attractive in its intellectual purity, but in practice, people expect to see
fronts, and fronts are intimately related to weather patterns.
folks would argue that the relationship between fronts and weather
patterns is anything but simple, and that the mere presence of a frontal
symbol without a depiction of the underlying weather elements is likely to
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