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Canadian Landforms:Western Cordillera
Transcript of Canadian Landforms:Western Cordillera
A presentation by Brian Vuong
The Western Cordillera is the westernmost landform region of Canada. It covers most of British Columbia and Yukon and small parts of Alberta and the Northwest Territories.It is 1.6 million kilometers in area, which is approximately one-sixth of Canada's total area. It spans from the fourty-ninth parallel to the seventieth. (Andrew, Griffin, & Mader, pg. 2)
The landscape of the Western Cordillera is constantly changing. But for it to become the mountainous region we know today, it had to take 2.35 billion years, from 2.5 billion years B.C.-150 million years ago B.C. The Panthalassa Sea(the sea that surrounded Pangaea), had many terranes( large amounts of rock broken off of tectonic plates floating in it). The collision of the Insular and Intermontane terranes resulted in the mountains that we know today as the Western Cordillera.(Ostopowich, 2005, pg. 13)
The Western Cordillera is generally a mountainous region. It contains three major mountain ranges, the Coast, the Rockies, and the Columbians. There are three very distinct landscapes within the region, the Boreal, Taiga, and Montane Cordilleras. The Boreal Cordillera is located in the center of the landform region, it has many mountains and is generally covered with forests. The Taiga cordillera is in the north section of the Western Cordillera. It was not touched by a lot of human development, so its landforms are very prominent with canyons, rivers and waterfalls. The Montane Cordillera is the southernmost part of the three. It is the most populated and contains the most major cities.
The Western Cordillera has a climate unique to the rest of Canada. It's weather remains constant throughout the year as it is cooled by the ocean in summer, and warmed by it in winter. Within the Cordillera, there are generally two types of climate regions; the climate around mountains, and the climate on plateaus. On mountains, the weather is generally very dry with cold winters and cool summers, such as the city of Prince George, British Columbia. This is because as air reaches the coastal mountains, it is forced to rise, then condense into clouds and rain before it reaches the peak. The plains have mild, wet winters and warm summers, such as the city of Vancouver, British Columbia. It has the warmest winters in Canada and they a long growing period. (Ostopowich, 2005, pg. 25)
Once the mountains were formed, it was time to start wearing them down. Erosion from wind and rain constanly lowered the mountains. The ice advances that covered Canada created different types of landforms in the Western Cordillera such as fjords, valleys, and ridges among mountains. The mountains of the Western Cordillera are still fairly new compared to others within Canada. They would still be jagged and very tall. (Andrew, Griffin, & Mader, 2004, pg. 4)
The Western Cordillera includes Canada's highest mountain, Mt. Logan.
The Western Cordillera contains many different landforms, such as gorges, valleys, plateaus, rivers, bays, fjords, plains, and islands. (Ostopowich, 2005, pg. 6-21)
The Western Cordillera has a large effect on the areas east of it. Its landscape can effect the entirety of Canada. The sheer height of the mountains force air to condense and fall as precipitation before it reaches the top, casting rain shadows onto a large area east of the mountains. The mountains also block large air currents coming from the west. By doing so, the arctic air currents from the north are free to blow into central Canada. (Bailey, Oke, & Rouse, 1998, pg. 244)
Plants and Animals
The Western Cordillera contains many species of plants and animals unique from the rest of Canada. The most major factor that determines what type of wildlife can live in one place is altitude. The altitude affects the climate, which is what all living beings depend upon to live. The vegetation and animals differ between three different regions within the Western Cordillera; coastal areas,interior areas, and northern areas. In the north, only small plants such as shrubs and ferns grow. Further south, large forests cover much of the land. The animals there must be well adjusted to the cold and mountainous terrain. Some of these animals include mountain goats, bears, wolverines, and hares. Goats are able to easily scale mountains to look for food. Bears are able to eat a large variety of things, and are able to get to hard-to-reach places to feed themselves. However, human development is quickly destroying the habitats of these animals and they are quickly disappearing. (Ostopowich, 2005, pg. 34-37)
freckle pelt lichen
This Landform Region is constantly scouted for natural resources, and it has several that are a great benefit to Canada. With the large amounts of trees within the area, it would be a waste to not invest in the forestry industry. The mountains contain large amounts of coal as well. This is not mined as much anymore as it is no longer a popular fuel source. But oher than that, other precious metals such as lead, zinc, copper, gold, and silver can be mined, processed and sold. The possibility of finding minerals is what started the Klondike Gold Rush and expanded the economy of the western part of Canada greatly. Large amounts of fish, especially salmon can also be seen of the coast of British Columbia. It is a major industry in the Western Cordillera. However, this is not a large natural resource anymore due to overfishing. (PSF, n.d.) The prairies are Canada's central headquarters for agriculture but a number of things can also be grown here. The soil in the Western Cordillera is perfect for fruits and flowers. (Ostopowich, 2005, pg. 31)
Since the the Western Cordillera is so mountainous, it is difficult to construct buildings or travel through the region. Most of the settlements were built on whatever flat land they could find. Many major cities now are trading posts and major transportation points that the Europeans settled in when exploring this area. (Ostopowich, 2005, pg. 16) There are less mountains in the south so many people travelled to British Columbia. Major cities can be seen in the map below, the most populated ones being Vancouver and Victoria. (BCstats, n.d.) Both Vancouver and Victoria are situated at the southwest corner of British Columbia. In that area, the land is free of mountains and the climate is very moderate due to the Pacific Ocean. It would make sense to think that most of the major settlements have these properties as well.
The Western Cordillera is a part of Canada, just like any other of its landform regions. As part of a country, the Western Cordillera has a duty to make itself useful to Canada. There are a variety of fields of jobs and professions in which one can employ themselves in.
This landform region is famous throughout Canada for its beautiful scenery and untouched nature. It draws in millions of tourists every year and is a large part of Canada's tourism industry. (Andrew, Griffin, & Mader, 2004, pg. 48)
Valuable minerals are still being shipped out of mines and remains a large industry in the Western Cordillera. Over ten thousand jobs in British Columbia are related to mining. It is an industry that earns Canada billions of dollars. It has begun to decline recently in the last few years though. (PriceWaterhouseCoopers, n.d.)
Ostopowich, M. (2005).
Retrieved from http://books.google.ca/books?id=z25T8p4l19wC&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false
Andrew, W., Griffin, A., & Mader, W. (2004).
Toronto: Thomson Education.
Bailey, W.G., Oke, T.R., & Rouse, W.R. (1997).
The Surface Climates Of Canada.
Mcgill-Queen. Retrieved from
The government of British Columbia. (n.d.) BCstats.
Retrieved from http://www.bcstats.gov.bc.ca/
PriceWaterhouseCoopers. (n.d.) PWC. Retrieved from
Pacific Salmon Foundation. (n.d.) PSF. Retrieved from
This presentation will be about the Western Cordillera, the easternmost landform region of Canada. Inside this prezi, you will find information about its development, landscape, climate,wildlife, economy, and more. Click the arrows at the bottom of the screen to navigate through this Prezi. I hope it will be very informative for you.
While not as fertile as the interior plains, the soil in this region is very good for growing, especially fruits and vegetables. Less than five percent of land in the region can be used for farming. The Western Cordillera has one of the most producitve agricultural industries in Canada. (Andrew,
Griffin, & Mader, 2004, p. 20)
Alexander Mackenzie was the first European to cross the Rockies.
Not so fun fact:
In 1903, Millions of tonnes of rock fell down on Frank, Alberta, essentially destroying the town. This was due to careless mining.
Thank you for reading this presentation! I hope you found it useful