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polar front

polar front, zone of transition between polar and tropical air masses. Its average position during the winter is at about 30° lat. and during the summer at about 60° lat. In the N Atlantic Ocean, for example, the polar front can often be traced as a continuous line extending over thousands of miles, usually toward the northeast from a point just off the coast of the United States at about 30°N. Most cyclones outside the tropics develop along the polar front from waves caused by the juxtaposition of cold air moving toward the equator and hot air moving toward the poles; the earth's rotation gives this air its cyclonic twist. See front.

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

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