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A 'trough' is an elongated region of relatively low atmospheric pressure, often associated with fronts.

Unlike fronts, there is not a universal symbol for a trough on a weather chart. The weather charts in some countries or regions mark troughs by a line. In the United States, a trough may be marked as a dashed line. In the UK, Hong Kong and Fiji, it is represented by a bold line extended from a low pressure center or between two low pressure centers; in Macau and Australia, it is a dotted line. If they are not marked, troughs may still be identified as an extension of isobars away from a low pressure center.

Sometimes the region between two high pressure centers may assume the character of a trough when there is a detectable wind shift noted at the surface. In the absence of a wind shift, the region is designated a col, akin to a geographic saddle between two mountain peaks.

If a trough forms in the mid-latitudes, a temperature difference between two sides of the trough usually exists in the form of a weather front. A weather front is usually less convective than a trough in the tropics or subtropics (such as a tropical wave). Sometimes collapsed frontal systems will degenerate into troughs.

Convective cells may develop in the vicinity of troughs and give birth to a tropical cyclone. Some tropical or subtropical regions such as the Philippines or south China are greatly affected by convection cells along a trough. In the mid-latitude westerlies, troughs and ridges often alternate, especially when upper-level winds are in a high-amplitude pattern. For a trough in the westerlies, the region just west of the trough axis is typically an area of convergent winds and descending air - and hence high pressure - while the region just east of the trough axis is an area of fast, divergent winds and low pressure. Tropical waves are a type of trough in easterly currents, a cyclonic northward deflection of the trade winds.

Troughs may be at the surface, or aloft, or both under various conditions. Most troughs bring clouds, showers, and a wind shift, particularly following the passage of the trough. This results from convergence or "squeezing" which forces lifting of moist air behind the trough line.


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