- Trough, Trough Aloft, Upper Level [Cold] Low: An elongated area of relatively low pressure, at constant altitude, in the atmosphere. The opposite of an upper level ridge. Upper level troughs are usually oriented north-south with the north end open. That is, air currents moving from west to east around the earth flow around three sides of the trough then turn eastward rather than toward the west, as in the case of a closed circulation. A large upper level trough may have one or more small upper level closed low circulation systems within it.