Oceanography The Official Magazine of
The Oceanography Society
Volume 05 Issue 01

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Volume 05, No. 1
Pages 49 - 54

Characterizing Major Frontal Systems: A Nowcast/Forecast System for the Northwest Atlantic

Daniel N. Fox Michael R. Carnes Jim L. Mitchell
First Paragraph

The U.S. Navy expends a considerable effort to determine the locations and properties of most major ocean frontal systems across the globe. This synoptic picture, called a nowcast, is partly constructed using expendable bathythermographs dropped from ships (XBTs) and airplanes (AXBTs). Such in situ measurements can give very detailed information, but the cost limits their utility to relatively localized and short-lived surveys. Fortunately, given an adequate database of earlier measurements, simply knowing the surface location of a front is often sufficient to reconstruct an accurate picture of the three-dimensional thermal structure of the water column to depths of thousands of meters. Obtaining that surface information is not a trivial task however.


Fox, D.N., M.R. Carnes, and J.L. Mitchell. 1992. Characterizing major frontal systems: A nowcast/forecast system for the northwest Atlantic. Oceanography 5(1):49–54, https://doi.org/10.5670/oceanog.1992.32.