The first real advance in our understanding of mid-latitude weather variations was made with the discovery that many of the day-to-day changes are associated with the formation and movement of boundaries, or fronts, between different airmasses. Observations of the temperature, wind direction, humidity and other physical phenomena during unsettled periods showed that discontinuities often persist between impinging airmasses of differing characteristics. The term 'front' for these surfaces of airmass conflict was a logical one, proposed during the First World War by a group of meteorologists led by Vilhelm Bjerknes working in Norway (see Box 9.1). Their ideas are still an integral part of weather analysis and forecasting in middle and high latitudes.

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