• Entry
  • Reader's guide
  • Entries A-Z
  • Subject index

Fronts

  • By: David L. Arnold
  • In: Encyclopedia of Geography
  • Edited by: Barney Warf
  • Subject:General Geography, Earth & Environmental Science

The most common definition of a front is a “boundary between dissimilar air masses.” While this boundary is typically manifested as a thermal discontinuity, in some cases a moisture discontinuity can also behave as a front. In the plains of the United States, this moisture discontinuity is commonly referred to as a dryline, separating continental tropical and maritime tropical air masses.

The classic definition of a front, which implies a sharp zero-order boundary, often leads to a misunderstanding of its concept and structure. A front is actually a human construct considered to represent the leading edge of a strong thermal gradient. As a result, it is very difficult to find consistency in its placement on weather maps, even by professional meteorologists. This is especially true with ...

    • Loading...
    locked icon

    Sign in to access this content

    Get a 30 day FREE TRIAL

    • Watch videos from a variety of sources bringing classroom topics to life
    • Read modern, diverse business cases
    • Explore hundreds of books and reference titles