front, in meteorology, zone of transition between adjacent air masses. If a cold air mass is advancing to replace a warmer one, their mutual boundary is termed a cold front; if the reverse, then the boundary is termed a warm front, whereas a stationary front indicates that no relative advance of either air mass is occurring. An occluded front is one in which a warm front has been completely undermined by cold air and is therefore positioned aloft. Since warmer air always overrides colder, denser air, the frontal boundary is sloped closer to the horizontal than the vertical. A mature cyclone usually involves all of the frontal types. The recognition of atmospheric fronts and their relative importance to weather forecasting came about only at the beginning of the 20th cent. as a result of publications by the meteorologists Vilhelm and Jakob Bjerknes.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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