What is regional geography?
regional and urban planning
specific studies on cultures and societies, economic and political systems and physical
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.
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
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
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
These fluctuations magnify the economic cycle and may lead to
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
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
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”.
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
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 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
Result from prolonged water saturation of the soil profile. In regions such as the St.
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
o The cold waters of Hudson Bay and the Labrador Sea prevent tree growth along
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
- 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
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 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
When sea ice forms, most of the salt is pushed into the ocean water below the ice.
Sastrugi: Parallel wavelike ridges caused by winds on the surface of hard snow, esp. in
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.
Describe underlying geology of each region:
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
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
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
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
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
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
Sedimentary material that gets deposited from lakes
Sedimentary material that gets deposited from rivers and outwashed plains
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
Solifluction or Gelifluction
“soil flow” down a frozen, sloping surface
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
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.
The most distinctive periglacial landform, a