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Sea surface temperature (SST) fronts detected in Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) data using automated edge-detection algorithms were compared to fronts found in continuous measurements of SST made aboard a ship of opportunity. Two histograms (a single-image and a multi-image method) and one gradient algorithm were tested for the occurrence of two types of errors: (a) the detection of false fronts and (b) the failure to detect fronts observed in the in situ data. False front error rates were lower for the histogram methods (27%–28%) than for the gradient method (45%). Considering only AVHRR fronts for which the SST gradient along the ship track was greater than 0.1°C km−1, error rates drop to 14% for the histogram methods and 29% for the gradient method. Missed front error rates were lower using the gradient method (16%) than the histogram methods (30%). This error rate drops significantly for the histogram methods (5%–10%) if fronts associated with small-scale SST features (<10 km) are omitted from the comparison. These results suggest that frontal climatologies developed from the application of automated edge-detection methods to long time series of AVHRR images provide acceptably accurate statistics on front occurrence.