North America has a zonality that is well traced across latitudes. The territory of this region is located within almost all geographical zones, with the exception of the equatorial. They include several natural areas. The most diverse zone is the temperate geographical zone. The northern part of the mainland is distinguished by latitudinal zonality, when natural zones are elongated along the parallel and replace each other in latitude. The main reason for this type of zoning is that these territories are represented by plains.
The southern regions are distinguished by natural zones elongated meridionally, replacing each other when moving from the coasts. This is due to the fact that mountain barriers do not allow the air masses of the Pacific and Atlantic oceans to freely penetrate deep into the continent. Changing climatic conditions occur in two directions: from north to south and from the ocean margins to the interior of the mainland.
Map of natural areas of North America
The territory with arctic deserts is located in the arctic climate zone. It occupies the islands of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago and a large area of Greenland. The Arctic deserts are characterized by harsh weather conditions: strong gusty winds, rainfall from 100 to 250 millimeters per year, long polar winters and air temperatures in the cold season down to40 degrees Celsius. In the “hottest” periods, the temperature rises just above 0 degrees Celsius. Soils are desert and rocky.
The flora of the Arctic deserts is teeming with a large number of mosses and lichens. The fauna is represented by a variety of seals, walruses, polar bears, musk oxen, polar wolves, foxes and lemmings.
Tundra and forest tundra
These zones are located in the subarctic zone. They occupy the northern regions of North America and the southern parts of the islands. The weather is characterized by a short summer, when the air temperature does not exceed +16 degrees Celsius. As a rule, it lasts no more than a month. Snow cover melts in June. Precipitation ranges from 100 to 500 mm. Almost all soils are divided into tundra-gley and marsh.
The flora is represented by various lichens, mosses, sedges, bushes, willows, dwarf birches, cotton grasses and dandelions. The most common animals are musk oxen, caribou deer, wolves, arctic foxes, partridges and snowy owls.
The forest tundra spread from the Labrador Peninsula to the Mackenzie mountain range. Here you can find white and black spruce, aspen, balsam fir and birch. Coniferous forests are found from the coast of the eastern Atlantic to the western Pacific. The main animals of the coniferous forests are brown bears, martens, muskrats, skunks and beavers. The coniferous forest is formed by spruces, balsam firs, American larch and pines.
The taiga zone is located in two climatic zones: subarctic and temperate. The soils of the taiga are brown forest and sod-podzolic. The Pacific taiga belongs to the oceanic coniferous massifs. The flora is represented by white and black spruce, pines, balsam firs, larches, thujas and hemlocks. Among the main representatives of the animal world, black grizzly bears, martens, Canadian lynxes, skunks, elks, bison can be distinguished.
Zone of mixed and deciduous forests
This zone is located in the temperate climate zone of North America. Weather conditions are characterized by warm summers, when the air temperature ranges from 16 to 24 degrees Celsius, and cool winters. Precipitation varies from 500 to 2000 millimeters. Their number depends on the location: the more north the region, the more precipitation. Soils are brown forest and sod-podzolic.
The flora is represented by a variety of trees such as beech, oak, birch, ash, fir, spruce, maple and linden.
On the territory of the Appalachians there is a broad-leaved forest in which plane trees, beeches, lindens and chestnuts are found. Also there you can find hickory, black walnut and magnolias. Fauna includes foxes, squirrels, wolverines, brown bears and lynxes.
Steppes and forest-steppes
Steppes and forest-steppes are located in the temperate and subtropical climatic zone. The prairies are located a little south of the taiga on the Great and Central Plains. A subzone of forest-steppes stretches across the Great Plains from west to east. The steppe zone is heterogeneous. It receives no more than 600 millimeters of precipitation annually. The whole territory is cut by beams and ravines. The main types of soils are chestnut, meadow-chernozem, gray and chernozem.
Almost 80 percent of the entire plant community is represented by the bearded vulture plant. Fescue, feather grass and bison grass also grow in these zones. The animal world consists of bison, steppe foxes, rabbits, opossums and prairie dogs.
Deserts and semi-deserts
On the territory of North America, desert and semi-desert zones extend in the interior of the Cordillera, occupying the most arid regions of the Columbian Plateau and the main part of the Great Basin. These areas are exposed to continental air masses.
The high altitude of the area above sea level led to low temperatures. Depending on the height, the summer temperature ranges from +16 to +32 degrees Celsius. The winter period is characterized by temperatures from +8 to +24 degrees Celsius. Precipitation ranges from 250 to 500 millimeters.
Natural areas of North America table
|Arctic deserts||Canadian archipelago||Stony, permafrost zone|
|Tundra||Northern arctic climate zone||Podzolic, permafrost-taiga|
|forest tundra||Very narrow band in northern latitudes||Gley, podzolic|
|Mixed and deciduous forests||Corresponds to the temperate climate zone||Brown forest, sod-podzolic|
|Forest-steppes and steppes||Prairies occupy the central part, closer to the mountains||Chernozems, chestnut|
|Variable rainforests||Subtropical climate zone||Yellow soils and red soils|
|Semi-deserts and deserts||Interior of the Cordillera||Gray-brown, gray soils|
|Savannahs and wet forests||Central America||Krasnozems and red-brown|