North American Physical Geography

North American Physical
The United States and Canada
All images courtesy of Wikimedia and Google Maps
Important Physical Features
Mountain Ranges
• Rocky Mountains
• Appalachian Mountains
• Sierra Nevada Mountains
• Alaska Range
Bodies of Water
• Mississippi-Missouri-Ohio
River system
• Great Lakes
• Columbia River
Rocky Mountains
Largest mountain range in North America
Also the youngest
Reaches higher altitudes than the Appalachian Mountains
Stretches from Alaska to Mexico
Appalachian Mountains
Second largest North American range
Oldest range in North America
Low altitude peaks due to weathering and erosion
Stretches from Alabama to Nova Scotia
Mississippi-Missouri-Ohio Rivers
• River system composed of three of the largest rivers in North
• System drains 31 states and a2 Canadian provinces
• All flows to the Gulf of Mexico near New Orleans
Grand Canyon
• Carved out by the Colorado River over a 5 million year time
• Over a mile deep in some places
• The canyon itself has been dated at an
estimated 17 million years old
Great Lakes
• Consists of Lakes Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie, and Ontario
• Largest repository of fresh water in the world
– Contains 21% of the world’s surface fresh water
• Volume of 5,400 cubic miles, and a surface area of 94,000 square
Canadian Shield
A very thin layer of soil on top of bedrock
Many bare outcroppings of the bedrock as a result of glaciation
Canadian Shield is immensely rich in raw minerals
Not many people live here; why?
Death Valley
3,000 square miles of desert located in the Mojave Desert
Hottest place in North America
Driest place in North America
Badwater Basin is the lowest place in North America
• Mineral
– Both the US and Canada have immense mineral wealth, stretching from
oil to precious metals
• Vegetation
– US has healthy lumber industry, as well as a plethora of agricultural
– Canada utilizes their lumber more than the US does as they have a larger
LACEMOPS of North America
Latitude/Air Masses
Elevation (both positive and negative)
Mountain Barriers
Ocean Currents
Pressure systems and Storms?
– These are less predictable, but what types of storms are abundant in
North America? What about in the locations we are looking at?
Cloudcroft, New Mexico
Spokane, Washington
Cape Canaveral, Florida
Alert, Nunavut
St. John’s, Newfoundland