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Remembered Today:

'Weather front', 'warm front', 'cold front' etc - battle fronts connection?


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Listening to a radio programme recently on weather forecasting, a claim was made that the naming of 'weather front', 'cold front' ,'warm front' etc came about because of their similarity with  battle fronts. I can understand how this association might be imagined  particularly as the terms do  relate to boundaries & advancing/battling  air masses etc, but I'm a bit sceptical about the naming, other than being coincidental, coming about through comparison to the battle fronts of the Great War.  Although the concept of weather fronts  is said to have been developed during the war , there don't appear to be any published mention of them before the 1920's with the OED  indicating, from its earliest reference,  that the first printed mention of them only came about in 1921 with the terms appearing to simply relate to their  characteristics:

front, n. (and adj.)

 h. Meteorology. A bounding surface or a transition zone between two air masses at different temperatures; also, the line on the ground that marks the lower edge of this surface; so cold front, warm front: the forward boundary of a mass of advancing cold, or warm, air.
1921   J. Bjerknes & H. Solberg in Geofysiske Publikationer II. iii.    In the first case, the boundary line at the ground will be the front of advancing cold air, or, to introduce a shorter expression, a ‘cold front’. In the latter case, the boundary line will be the front of advancing warm air, or simply a ‘warm front’.

J. Bjerknes is considered to be one of the founders of modern weather forecasting and the originator of the concept of 'fronts' but, although the battle front connection is made on some of the more popular  internet sites, none of the more detailed of his biographies available on line mentions a connection. So, possibly another 'urban legend' ? 



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Interesting, however, I can see no connection between “weather front” etc and WW1. I have a copy of the Meteorological Glossary (Fourth Issue) 1918, published by the Met Office. There is no mention of this at all in what appears to be a thorough examination.

Perhaps a bit of journalistic hopefulness.







Edited by Terry_Reeves
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