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The Diverse Lands of North America

by WCC on January 11, 2012

in North America

North America – North America is the northern part of the American double continent , surrounded north of the Arctic Ocean , east of the Atlantic Ocean , south of the Caribbean and west of the Pacific Ocean. It is the third largest continents on earth, after Asia and Africa, and covers, including Greenland , the Central American isthmus and the Caribbean, an area of 24.93 million km. South America and North America after Amerigo Vespucci named. He came first to the idea that the land that Christopher Columbus discovered and as India was considered to be a separate continent. The connection of North and South America is the Isthmus of Panama . Occasionally, Central America, named as a separate continent, however, is Central America to the prevailing opinion at most one region such as Western Europe and is one of North America.

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To North America include Greenland , the autonomous capacity to Denmark belongs, Canada , the USA , Mexico , Central America and several Caribbean island states .
Almost the entire area of North America is located on the North American plate , one part lies on the Pacific plate . These are mainly around the peninsula of Baja California in Mexico and the coast of California from San Diego to just north of San Francisco . The break between the Pacific and North American plate is San Andreas fault called. Both plates are drifting constantly to the north, the Pacific plate at a higher speed. As a result, both plates slide past each other. Since this does not happen smoothly, the two panels interlock at various points and it is very common for earthquakes in this area.

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In the western part are the Alaskakette , the Rocky Mountains , the Western Cordillera and the Sierra Madre Occidental , which are mainly caused by the pressure of the Pacific plate on the North American plate, about 80 million years ago. The highest peak in North America is located in the Alaskakette Mount McKinley (6194 m). In the north, Greenland with its ice and further south between Canada and the U.S. worth mentioning the great lakes, the legacy of the last ice age are. Here is the after the Caspian Sea ‘s second largest lake in the world, Lake Superior with an area of approximately 82,000 square kilometers. On the eastern side are the Appalachian Mountains , which belong to an age of about 400 million years to the older mountains of the world. Found between the Appalachians and the Rocky Mountains, the Great Plains , central plains, through which the Missouri River and the Mississippi River flow. The Mississippi Valley will also Tornado Alley called, since tornadoes occur very frequently.
Since 1931 is Rugby , North Dakota officially the geographical center of North America. The position was marked with a 4.5 m high stone obelisk.

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Through its major north-south extent the climate of the North American continent is characterized by strong contrasts. In the area of the northern Canadian islands and the Hudson Bay polar Tundrenklima predominant one, to the south and west of the boreal zone is limited. The Hudson Bay as “America’s icebox” and the cold Labrador Current on the Atlantic coast, bring it on the east coast of the continent, an extension of the polar climates to the south. At this polar zone close to the south temperate climates to which lie mainly in the area but the United States. These are the central continental steppes and prairies, and the humid continental climates in the north-east, which are converted to the south to the southwest Wüstenklimaten or humid, subtropical climates in the Southeast . For Kordillerenregion is largely a high-mountain climate characteristic. She has a decisive influence on the climatic condition of the surrounding areas. While on their windward side in the west oceanic climate with heavy rain in winter and cool dry summers (southwest Canada and northwest USA) or a Mediterranean to desert-like climate (California and Southern California) prevails, it brings on the lee side of its function as a latch rainfall arid climate and thus favors the southwestern states of the USA is hot and dry desert climate.

For a general overview of the course of the isotherms in North America, the following picture: In the center of the continent’s average temperature rises – from north to south is relatively evenly – as expected. Deviations from this pattern arising by topographical features, such as the Hudson – Bay or the Great Lakes [2] . Which are caused by the continental climate, large temperature amplitudes typically pronounced in northern Canada and reach up to 45 K. On the Pacific coast to prevent the maritime influence of such extreme differences in the course of the year and the annual amplitudes decrease to low double digits at 14.2 K in Vancouver to San Francisco in single digit at 7.6 K.

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On the east coast of the continent, with the exception of Florida, but it follows a completely different picture. Here the annual cycle of temperatures is in spite of its proximity to the Atlantic Ocean continental characterized. This is due to the cold Labrador Current, which provides up to 35 ° N for very low winter temperatures, the other to the position of the North American continent in the west wind zone , which also leads to a quasi-continental conditions on the east coast.

The strong oceanic influence takes on the west by the Pacific Coast for very heavy rainfall with a summer maximum. The wettest areas are on the windward side of the Cordillera, British Columbia- finding, to the south the rains are weakening significantly and reached the semi-arid Southern California climate their relative minimum. Within the Cordillera, the rainfall distribution strongly influenced by the regional topography, but also here is a clear gradient from the windward to recognize Leelagen . The west of the continent outside the Kordillerenregion is relatively low precipitation, ranging from arid regions in southwestern U.S. states up to the semi-arid steppes and the continental boreal zone in Canada with more than 500 mm annual precipitation. In the east, the maritime influence is clearly noticeable. On the East Coast of the North American continent relatively high annual totals are recorded, the intensity decreases from north to south. Especially on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico are annual totals well over 1000 mm are usual. The tropical maritime air masses that cause this precipitation, affect the intensity of rainfall throughout the southeastern U.S. from. In the area of the Great Lakes because of their size, there is also a maritime influence, the so-called lake effect.

The weather patterns of the North American continent are influenced by several factors. Firstly, its location in the west wind zone is significant, the main axis approximately along the 48th Latitude and runs up to great heights ranging. By the barrier effect of the Cordilleras, these air masses from the Aleutian low in the north and the Pacific High to the south fed. On the east side of the continent’s weather patterns from the Iceland Low and the Azores High influences. Of great importance also is the topographical situation of the continent. The absence of a mountain barrier in the West-East direction allows for a fluid meridional air mass exchange. At the meeting of the tropical and warm and the cold polar air masses, each with different moisture leads to the formation of cyclones , the influence of the west wind move from west to east, following on the continent. The unimpeded clash of these contrasting air masses is also the most important prerequisite for the most extreme climatic events and caused the great threat to the North American continent by so-called climatic hazards (English for climate hazards).

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The above-mentioned topographical structure with the Rocky Mountains along the west coast and the Appalachians on the East Coast, which limits the continent south funnel-shaped, and the adjacent Pacific Ocean in the west, the Atlantic Ocean in the east and the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico to the south cause the large-scale and frequent occurrence of extreme weather events, which the North American continent also appear in that regard as “the land of opportunity” can be. The occurrence of these climatic hazards focuses primarily on the continental territory of the United States of America and affects only in exceptional cases, the south of Canada and in the case of hurricanes throughout the Caribbean and Central America. All extreme events are seasonally limited, however, vary considerably in terms of their range or the size of the affected region. Shall enter in the spring tornadoes in the central United States and teleconnections of El Niño events , the summer humidity and heat waves , drought and heavy rain in late summer and autumn hurricanes and winter blizzards , snowfalls and frosts on.

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