INTRODUCTION The American Northlands is easily the largest of the North American regions. Extends from northern Alaska & Canada as for south as the northern Great Lakes See map on page 391. Regional Criteria –Inhospitable nature of the physical environment –Sparse population
PHYSICAL GEOGRAPHY General Characteristics –Cold temperatures –Long winters –Thin soils –Poor drainage –Low precipitation Climate –Average January temperatures range from 27 F (along the southern Great Lakes) to -39 F (in parts of Arctic Canada).
PHYSICAL GEOGRAPHY (CLIMATE) Long winters are the norm –Frost free periods range from about 135 days in the south to about 14 days in the northern extremes. –The average frost free period is about 90 days. Summers are short and cool. A continental climate prevails over most of the region.
PHYSICAL GEOGRAPHY (CLIMATE) Precipitation is variable –40 inches/year along the southern shore of Labrador –10 inches a year in Northwestern Canada –<6 inches a year throughout the Arctic. In the Arctic, cold air masses formed over this area hold little moisture and therefore produce little precipitation. Much of the Arctic area is among the most arid climates found in North America.
PHYSICAL GEOGRAPHY (Terrain) Most of Alaska and about 1/2 of Canada is underlain by "permafrost." –The subsurface layer that may range from 3 to 300 meters in thickness. –As the surface layer thaws to a depth of about 1 meter, water is held on the surface by a frozen layer underneath. –Instead of permitting the moisture to penetrate the soil, the result is a boggy, shifting surface.
PHYSICAL GEOGRAPHY (Vegetation) Taiga –The expanse of coniferous forest that stretches across the entire southern area of the region. –Characterized by closely ranked spruces, firs, and pines, which are slow growing and not very tall. –Trees decrease in size and number- south to north Tundra –The region of lichens, grasses, mosses, and shrubs that occupies the northern section of the Northlands. –See map on page 393.
PHYSICAL GEOGRAPHY (Vegetation) Treeline –A term that refers to the latitudinal or elevational limit of normal tree growth. –In the case of the Northlands, the treeline is the latitudinal limit that serves as the transition zone or boundary between the Taiga and the Tundra.
HUMAN SETTLEMENT PATTERNS History –Long before Europeans arrived on the continent, the region was inhabited by American Indians and Inuit (Eskimos). Inuit were predominant in most of the Arctic region Indians were largely concentrated in the Taiga. Most were hunters and fishers during the Pre- European era.
HUMAN SETTLEMENT PATTERNS History (continued) –Early French fur traders and trappers established themselves in the Northeast. –The Hudson Bay Company focused on the Northwest. –Both groups relied on water transport and early military forts were established to protect their interests.
HUMAN SETTLEMENT PATTERNS Current Population Distribution –Indians and Inuit no longer rely totally on hunting, fishing and gathering. Forestry and mining provide employment opportunities. –Both groups are mainly town or village dwellers and usually occupy the bottom rung on the social and economic ladder. –Indians - concentrated in the interior; Eskimos are distributed along the coasts and in the Arctic. –Land settlements with native peoples in both countries remain key issues.
REGIONAL ECONOMY Logging/Forestry –The largest area of uncut forest in North America remains in the southern half of the Northlands. –The upper Great Lakes area was logged during the late 1800s and early 1900s, and was so devastated it became known as the "Cutover Region." –Lumber, pulp and paper operations now dot the region from Quebec to Manitoba. –The spruce forests south of Hudson Bay are the prime source for most paper mills.
REGIONAL ECONOMY Logging/Forestry (continued) –Quebec remains the leader in Canadian pulp and paper production. –Canada is the world's number two producer of pulp and paper. –Most of the production is exported to the U.S. Mining Canada - world's third leading producer of metals. In order of importance, its minerals include copper, coal, gold, and iron ore.
REGIONAL ECONOMY Mining (continued) –The Mesabi Range developed into the continent's major producer of iron ore. Situational advantage - the accessibility network provided by the Great Lakes. The locks at Sault-Ste Marie are the busiest in the world as a result of the ore traffic. Taconite, which has an ore content of only 30% has replaced higher grade ores and is made useful through a process called "beneficiation."
REGIONAL ECONOMY Mining (continued) –Another iron ore producing region is located between Labrador and Quebec. –Sudbury started as a mining center and has grown to be the largest city of the Northlands, with about 150,000 people. The city is located in an area rich in nickel, lead, and zinc. –The Clay Belt District between Timmins, Ontario, and Val d'or, Quebec is an important copper region.
REGIONAL ECONOMY Mining (continued) –North slope oil Continues to be an important resource in the region. The Alaskan pipeline was opened in the summer of 1977, after a cost of about 8 billion dollars. The pipeline transports oil from the North slope to the port of Valdez-about 800 miles south.
REGIONAL ECONOMY Tourism –Major attractions Parks and national forests Wildlife (big game) Sport fishing –The areas closest to the U.S. border receive most of the pressure.
REGIONAL ECONOMY Hydroelectricity –70% of all electrical power in Canada comes from hydroelectrical facilities along the southern margins of the shield, where streams drop from the hard rock of the shield onto the lowlands of Quebec and Ontario. –Electrical power generated is cheap & abundant. –Canada sells its surplus to New York and the New England states, and would certainly like to compete with the coal-burning power plants of the Ohio Valley.