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Aspects of the biology of frontal systems
Le Fèvre, J. (1986). Aspects of the biology of frontal systems. Adv. Mar. Biol. 23: 163-299.
In: Advances in Marine Biology. Academic Press: London, New York. ISSN 0065-2881, more
Peer reviewed article  

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  • Le Fèvre, J.

    A common-sense view of the marine environment as a fluid medium would probably imply progressive changes and smooth gradients in physical properties. Sharp boundaries, however, are actually quite widespread and are generally known as “fronts” or “convergences” from one major aspect of the associated circulation. In the days of classical oceanography, these terms were applied mainly to wholesale oceanic features, such as the Antarctic Convergence, or Polar Front, which runs around the whole globe between the latitudes 50° and 60° S. Over the two or three past decades, however, increasing attention has been paid to a variety of hydrographic structures, all of them being termed “fronts”, ranging from the above-mentioned planetary features to small river plumes. The harvest of new fronts became especially large in the late seventies, when satellite-borne infrared radiometry, originally devised for night mapping of cloud patterns in meteorological surveys, underwent technical improvements which allowed it to be efficiently used for sea-surface temperature monitoring. As a result, the limit between what should and what should not be called a front can sometimes appear rather fuzzy. With regard to frontal structures in north-west European waters and their influence on pelagic ecosystems, the tide turns out to be both the common ultimate cause of a number of phenomena and the source of their variety.

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