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GG354 Exam Notes CANADIAN NORTH .docx

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Wilfrid Laurier University
Katherine Mc Leod

Lesson 1 What is regional geography?  regional and urban planning  specific studies on cultures and societies, economic and political systems and physical landscapes. Nordicity  A concept introduced by a Quebec geographer “Hamelin”, combines human and physical factors to measure the degree of “northernness” in specific places.  Provides a quantitative measure based on selected variables called polar units  Example: North Pole has 1000 polar units and southern limit of hamelins classification regions occurs at 200 polar units.  The north is classified into 3 regions: Middle North, Far North, and Extreme North.  The North is being described from a ‘southern’ perspective that reflects attitudes, beliefs, and values held by people residing in that part of Canada  Nordicity provides a quantitative definition of the southern boundary of the North and is based on 10 variables, such as latitude, degree of isolation, and annual cold, that are supposed to represent all facets of the North. Isolation  A defining feature of the north is the different perceptions between those born and raised in the north and those coming for business opportunities.  Sense of isolation has a negative effect on skilled workers and professionals Core/Periphery Model  The economic relationship between industrial cores and periphery hinterlands within a capitalist economy – this idea – was turned into a geographic model with one core and three peripheral regions (by friedmann)  Four regions of Canada o CORE - are centres, usually metropolitan, with a high potential for innovation and growth o UPWARD TRANSITION - areas of growth spread over small centres rather than at a core. Development corridors are upward transition zones which link two core cities o DOWNWARD TRANSITION - areas which are now declining because of exhaustion of resources or because of industrial change o RESOURCE FRONTIER - peripheral zones of new settlement   Canadian North is resource frontier  Much of the economic destiny of resource hinterlands is controlled by external forces and is extremely sensitive to fluctuations in world commodity prices  These fluctuations magnify the economic cycle and may lead to boom/bust conditions.  For this reason, government intervention in the marketplace is warranted to ensure “northern benefits” from resource extraction  These are crucial to northern development and lessen the North’s dependency Lesson 2 Climate change  Global circulation system o Transfers heat from low to high latitudes o Air and water move from tropical areas to polar areas o Transfers pollutants from industrial complexes to the northern lands and water Cryosolic soils  Extremely thin and immature soil associated with continuous permafrost and has relatively thick layers  Dominant throughout most of the territories (NWT, Yukon, Nunavut)  Cryoturbation refers to soil movement that arises from frost action, and is sometimes also referred to as “frost churning”. Brunisolic soils  The Brunisolic order was created for those soils that don’t quite meet the criteria of the other forested soil orders  can be viewed as a stage in an evolutionary sequence that begins with an unweathered parent material (Regosolic soils) and ends with development of a “mature” forested soil of the Podzolic or Luvisolic orders  this “stage” may, however, last for many thousands of years into the future Podzolic soils  Thin, acidic soil best formed under cool, wet growing conditions where the principle vegetative litter is derived from a coniferous forest  Associated with discontinuous and sporadic permafrost and has relatively thick layers.  Podzolic and gleysolic soils are common in the Subarctic  Mature soil evolved from brunisolic soil Luvisolic soils  Luvisolic soils are dominant in forested landscapes underlain by loamy tills derived from underlying sedimentary rocks or on clayey lacustrine deposits  the latter primarily in the Boreal Shield Ecoregion  mature soil evolved from brunisolic soils Gleysolic soils  Result from prolonged water saturation of the soil profile. In regions such as the St. Lawrence Lowlands Treeline  Represents the place where the last trees are able to grow and thus serves as a boundary line between the Artic and Subarctic  Also transitional zone between boreal forest and exclusive tundra vegetation  Has a distinct northwest to southeast direction due to two factors: o The continental effect causes interior of the North to warm in the summer, thus allowing the treeline to reach the mouth of Mackenzie River, well north of the Arctic Circle. o The cold waters of Hudson Bay and the Labrador Sea prevent tree growth along its coastline Mackenzie River  The Mackenzie River is the dominant river system of the North. The Mackenzie watershed drains much of western Canada to the north to the Beaufort Sea, and is within the Arctic drainage basin. The headwaters drain from the Rockies in the west to northern Alberta and Saskatchewan in the south and east.  Has great significance in the economic development of the western region of the North. The river basin has ecological, cultural, and economic significance for the western region of the North and has been recently an area of conflict over resource development The Arctic - North of the treeline, coldest biome in Canada - Extremely thin, immature crysolic soils and permafrost - Primarily in Nunavut and Newfoundland - CLIMATE: Arctic ocean is covered by a permanent ice cap, open water exists in summer but sea ice reforms in the winter - Warmest month temp of 10 degrees Celsius - VEGETATION: Few varieties of plant species – vegetation is separated into two subzones (Low Arctic and High Arctic) o Low Arctic: occupies mainland, tundra vegetation, nearly complete plant cover including shrubs, birch, willow o High Arctic: Northern reaches of the mainland and Archipelago, little vegetation, lichen on rock surfaces and unconsolidated material, polar deserts o Treeline represents the place where the last trees are able to grow and thus serve as the boundary between the Arctic and Subarctic The Subarctic - Largest natural region in North America - Boreal forest extends in a continuous belt from the Rockies to Labrador - CLIMATE: Long cold winters, short warm summers - VEGETATION: rich vegetation cover, coniferous trees are predominate o Two subzones: closed boreal forest and forest parkland  Closed boreal forest: dense forest of mature fir, spruce, pine (Yukon and NWT), wetlands, lakes, muskeg, peat bogs, wet environment  Forest parkland: transition area adjacent to prairies, combination of forest and mid latitude grasslands, small bushes and grasses o Podzolic and gleysolic soils are common – cool, wet conditions, poorly drained and low evaporation rate cause severely leached soils Sea Ice Characteristics  Classified by stages of development that relate to thickness and age.  New ice is a term that refers to ice less than 10 cm thick. As the ice thickens, it enters the young ice stage defined as 10-30 cm o Young ice can be categorized into two subgroups based on colour  Grey ice is 10-15cm) and Grey-white ice is (15-30cm)  Found in remote polar oceans (Arctic and Antarctic) influencing climate, wildlife, and the people who live in the arctic.  Frozen ocean water forms, grows, and melts in the ocean. In contrast, icebergs, ice sheets, glaciers, and ice shelves all originate on land from fresh water/snow.  Contributes to the ocean’s global “conveyor-belt” circulation Salinity  Salinity is a measure of the concentration of dissolved salts in water.  The average salinity of the ocean typically varies from 32 to 37 psu, but in polar regions, it may be less than 30 psu.  Sodium chloride (table salt) is the most abundant of the many salts found in the ocean.  Evaporation of ocean water and formation of sea ice both increase the salinity of the ocean  When sea ice forms, most of the salt is pushed into the ocean water below the ice. Features  Sastrugi: Parallel wavelike ridges caused by winds on the surface of hard snow, esp. in polar regions  Ice Floe: Sheets of ice floating in the water that can collide with one another and these forces pile ice into ridges and keels  Leads/Polynyas: Both are regions of open water where we would expect to find sea ice; both can influence weather and climate in their immediate surroundings, and both play important roles in wildlife habitats. Leads are narrow, linear features, while polynyas are generally more uniform in shape and larger in size. Leads form because of the motion of the ice, while polynyas form from either upwelling warm water or persistent winds. Lesson 3 Describe underlying geology of each region: 1. CORDILLERA Landscape Description: Towering peaks, plateaus Geology: Collision of North American plate and Pacific Plate, uplifting mountain chains in BC and the Yukon. Western movement of North American plate continues. 2. INTERIOR PLAINS Landscape Description: Rivers flowing into these shallow waters deposited sediments, which was then transformed into layer upon layer of sedimentary rock. Southern part of the Interior Plains lie grasslands. The sedimentary materials provide fertile soils for prairie farms Geology: Over time, weathering and erosion have cut deeply into the soft rock in parts of Alberta and Saskatchewan. At Horseshoe Canyon, near Drumheller, Alberta, these processes have exposed multicoloured layers from the Mesozoic era when dinosaurs roamed this region. 3. CANADIAN SHIELD Landscape Description: Lions head, a wave-lashed arch of stone, exemplifies the Canadian Shields rugged beauty. Region of rocks, lakes, forest and occupies more than half of Canada. The capacious Shield includes the Hudson Bay lowlands, one of the world’s largest wetlands, the Torngat Mountains — Eastern Canada’s highest peaks — and the uplands of central Baffin Island. Geology: Some 3 billion years ago, the Shield was a land of huge mountains and volcanoes. In the last ice age, glaciers stripped away the region’s surface, exposing the world’s oldest bedrock just east of Great Slave Lake. 4. ARCTIC LANDS Landscape Description: The land, permanently frozen to varying depths, supports only a thin surface mat of vegetation, which peters out completely in the high polar latitudes. The Arctic region includes the Yukon’s narrow coastal plain, Banks and Victoria islands, and Baffin Island’s lowlands. Geology: The Arctic Cordillera runs along Baffin Island’s east coast, extending into Ellesmere Island, where sheer cliffs on Borden Peninsula overlook the ice-clogged waters of Lancaster Sound. This upland extends into Ellesmere Island, home of ice-capped mountain ranges, where elevations reach 1,500 metre and higher. The island’s loftiest pinnacle is 2,616-metre-high Barbeau Peak. 5. HUDSON BAY LOWLANDS Landscape Description: Around lakes Erie and Ontario, the bedrock is sedimentary, visible in the limestone strata of the Niagara Escarpment. Geology: An overlay of glacial debris, deposited during the last ice age, created southern Ontario’s flat to rolling terrain. Along the St. Lawrence, the retreating ice-age Champlain Sea left behind a fertile riverine plain. WHAT IS GLACIATION?  It involves the formation, advance, and retreat of glaciers Pleistocene Epoch  Large ice sheets covered much of North America for long periods of time, but short interglacial periods occurred when the ice sheets retreated because of milder temperatures.  Began about 2,000,000 years before present What is climate?  An average of complex natural phenomena that make forecasting climate change or reconstructing past climate change very difficult. What are Erratics?  Huge boulders that move great distances then get deposited on the ground  Powerful example of glacial erosion  Nunataks are mountain peaks that rose above the alpine glaciers Glaciolacustrine material  Sedimentary material that gets deposited from lakes Glaciofluvial material  Sedimentary material that gets deposited from rivers and outwashed plains Isostatic lift/rebound  Inland boundary region marked by elevations of 180m, which indicate that with the removal of the weight of the ice sheet, the Earth’s crust begins to regain its former shape. Solifluction or Gelifluction  “soil flow” down a frozen, sloping surface Eskers  Long, narrow ridges of sorted sands and gravel that gets deposited from melt streams within or beneath the decaying ice sheet Glacial till  Unsorted material deposited by a melting ice sheet or glacier Drumlins  Formed by massive subglacial flooding, appear as clusters of low, elongated, whale- backed hills shaped by the flow of the ice. PERIGLACIAL LANDFORMS: A periglacial landform is a feature resulting from the action of intense frost, often combined with the presence of permafrost. Pingos  The most distinctive periglacial landform, a
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