High Plains (United States)

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High Plains
Johnson 1920 HighPlains.jpg
A buffalo wallow on the High Plains. [1]
Contiguous US physiographic divisions.png
Physiographic regions of the United States. The High Plains region is the center yellow area designated 13d. [2]
Floor elevation1,800–7,000 ft (550–2,130 m) [3]
Length800 mi (1,300 km)
Width400 mi (640 km)
Area174,000 sq mi (450,000 km2) [3]
Geography
CountryUnited States
Coordinates 39°N102°W / 39°N 102°W / 39; -102 Coordinates: 39°N102°W / 39°N 102°W / 39; -102
The High Plains ecology region is designated by 25 on this map. Level III ecoregions, United States.png
The High Plains ecology region is designated by 25 on this map.
Childress County, Texas, June 1938. Power farming displaces tenants, Childress County, Texas ppmsc00232u.jpg
Childress County, Texas, June 1938.

The High Plains are a subregion of the Great Plains mostly in the Western United States, but also partly in the Midwest states of Nebraska, Kansas, and South Dakota, generally encompassing the western part of the Great Plains before the region reaches the Rocky Mountains. The High Plains are located in eastern Montana, southeastern Wyoming, southwestern South Dakota, western Nebraska, eastern Colorado, western Kansas, eastern New Mexico, western Oklahoma, and to just south of the Texas Panhandle. [4] The southern region of the Western High Plains ecology region contains the geological formation known as Llano Estacado which can be seen from a short distance or on satellite maps. [5] From east to west, the High Plains rise in elevation from around 1,800 feet (550 m) to over 7,000 feet (2,100 m). [3]

Great Plains broad expanse of flat land west of the Mississippi River and east of the Rocky Mountains in the United States and Canada

The Great Plains is the broad expanse of flat land, much of it covered in prairie, steppe, and grassland, that lies west of the Mississippi River tallgrass prairie in the United States and east of the Rocky Mountains in the U.S. and Canada. It embraces:

Western United States Region in the United States

The Western United States is the region comprising the westernmost states of the United States. As European settlement in the U.S. expanded westward through the centuries, the meaning of the term the West changed. Before about 1800, the crest of the Appalachian Mountains was seen as the western frontier. The frontier moved westward and eventually the lands west of the Mississippi River were considered the West.

Midwestern United States region that includes parts of Canada and the United States

The Midwestern United States, also referred to as the American Midwest, Middle West, or simply the Midwest, is one of four census regions of the United States Census Bureau. It occupies the northern central part of the United States. It was officially named the North Central Region by the Census Bureau until 1984. It is located between the Northeastern United States and the Western United States, with Canada to its north and the Southern United States to its south.

Contents

Name

The term "Great Plains", for the region west of about the 96th or 98th meridian and east of the Rocky Mountains, was not generally used before the early 20th century. Nevin Fenneman's 1916 study, Physiographic Subdivision of the United States, [6] brought the term Great Plains into more widespread usage. Prior to 1916, the region was almost invariably called the High Plains, in contrast to the lower Prairie Plains of the Midwestern states. [7] Today the term "High Plains" is usually used for a subregion instead of the whole of the Great Plains.

Geography and climate

The High Plains has a "cold semi-arid" climateKöppen BSk—receiving between 10–20 inches (250–510 mm) of precipitation annually.

Köppen climate classification climate classification system

The Köppen climate classification is one of the most widely used climate classification systems. It was first published by the Russian climatologist Wladimir Köppen (1846–1940) in 1884, with several later modifications by Köppen, notably in 1918 and 1936. Later, the climatologist Rudolf Geiger introduced some changes to the classification system, which is thus sometimes called the Köppen–Geiger climate classification system.

Due to low moisture and high elevation, the High Plains commonly experiences wide ranges and extremes in temperature. The temperature range from day to night is usually 30 °F (17 °C), and 24-hour temperature shifts of 100 °F (56 °C) are possible, as evidenced by a weather event that occurred in Browning, Montana from January 23, 1916 to January 24, 1916, when the temperature fell from 44 to −56 °F (7 to −49 °C). This is the world record for the greatest temperature change in 24 hours. [8] The region is known for the steady, and sometimes intense, winds that prevail from the west. The winds add a considerable wind chill factor in the winter. The development of wind farms in the High Plains is one of the newest areas of economic development.

Browning, Montana Town in Montana, United States

Browning is a town in Glacier County, Montana. It is the headquarters for the Blackfeet Indian Reservation and the only incorporated town on the Reservation. The population was 1,016 at the 2010 United States Census.

Wind chill

Wind-chill or windchill is the lowering of body temperature due to the passing-flow of lower-temperature air.

Wind farm group of wind turbines

A wind farm or wind park is a group of wind turbines in the same location used to produce electricity. A large wind farm may consist of several hundred individual wind turbines and cover an extended area of hundreds of square miles, but the land between the turbines may be used for agricultural or other purposes. A wind farm can also be located offshore.

The High Plains are anomalously high in elevation. An explanation has recently been proposed to explain this high elevation. As the Farallon plate was subducted into the mantle beneath the region, water trapped in hydrous minerals in the descending slab was forced up into the lower crust above. Within the crust this water caused the hydration of dense garnet and other phases into lower density amphibole and mica minerals. The resulting increase in crustal volume raised the elevation about one mile. [9] [10]

Subduction A geological process at convergent tectonic plate boundaries where one plate moves under the other

Subduction is a geological process that takes place at convergent boundaries of tectonic plates where one plate moves under another and is forced to sink due to gravity into the mantle. Regions where this process occurs are known as subduction zones. Rates of subduction are typically in centimeters per year, with the average rate of convergence being approximately two to eight centimeters per year along most plate boundaries.

Garnet mineral, semi-precious stone

Garnets are a group of silicate minerals that have been used since the Bronze Age as gemstones and abrasives.

Amphibole double chain inosilicates

Amphibole is an important group of inosilicate minerals, forming prism or needlelike crystals, composed of double chain SiO
4
tetrahedra, linked at the vertices and generally containing ions of iron and/or magnesium in their structures. Amphiboles can be green, black, colorless, white, yellow, blue, or brown. The International Mineralogical Association currently classifies amphiboles as a mineral supergroup, within which are two groups and several subgroups.

Flora

Typical plant communities of the region are shortgrass prairie, prickly pear cacti and scrub. Sagebrush steppe is also present, particularly in high and dry areas closer to the Rocky Mountains.

Shortgrass prairie ecosystem in the Great Plains of North America

The shortgrass prairie is an ecosystem located in the Great Plains of North America. The prairie includes lands to the west as far as the eastern foothills of the Rocky Mountains and extends east as far as Nebraska and north into Saskatchewan. The prairie stretches through parts of Alberta, Wyoming, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Kansas, and passes south through the high plains of Colorado, Oklahoma, Texas, and New Mexico.

<i>Opuntia</i> genus of plants seen throughout India in dry areas

Opuntia, commonly called prickly pear, is a genus in the cactus family, Cactaceae. Prickly pears are also known as tuna (fruit), sabra, nopal from the Nahuatl word nōpalli for the pads, or nostle, from the Nahuatl word nōchtli for the fruit; or paddle cactus. The genus is named for the Ancient Greek city of Opus, where, according to Theophrastus, an edible plant grew and could be propagated by rooting its leaves. The most common culinary species is the Indian fig opuntia.

Sagebrush

Sagebrush is the common name of several woody and herbaceus species of plants in the genus Artemisia. The best known sagebrush is the shrub Artemisia tridentata. Sagebrushes are native to the North American west.

Economy

Agriculture in the forms of cattle ranching and the growing of wheat, corn and sunflowers is the primary economic activity in the region. The aridity of the region necessitates either dryland farming methods or irrigation; much water for irrigation is drawn from the underlying Ogallala Aquifer, which makes it possible to grow water-intensive crops such as corn, which the region's aridity would otherwise not support.[ citation needed ] Some areas of the High Plains have significant petroleum and natural gas deposits.

The combination of oil, natural gas, and wind energy along with plentiful underground water, has allowed some areas (such as West Texas) to sustain a range of economic activity, including occasional industry. For example, the ASARCO refinery in Amarillo, Texas has been in operation since 1924 due to the plentiful and inexpensive natural gas and water that are needed in metal ore refining.[ citation needed ]

Demographics

The High Plains has one of the lowest population densities of any region in the continental United States; Wyoming, for example, has the second lowest population density in the country after Alaska. In contrast to the rather low and stagnant population in the northern and western High Plains, cities in west Texas have shown sustained growth; Amarillo and Lubbock both have populations near or above 200,000 and continue to grow.[ citation needed ] Smaller towns, on the other hand, often struggle to sustain their population.

Major cities and towns

See also

Notes

  1. Darton, Nelson Horatio (1920). Syracuse-Lakin folio, Kansas. Folios of the Geologic Atlas, No. 212: United States Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey. p. 17 (plate 2).
  2. "Physiographic Regions". U.S. Department of the Interior. U.S. Geological Survey. Archived from the original on 15 May 2006. Retrieved 6 October 2010.
  3. 1 2 3 "USGS High Plains Aquifer WLMS". U.S. Department of the Interior. U.S. Geological Survey. Retrieved 6 October 2010.
  4. File:Level III ecoregions, United States.png
  5. "Shaded relief image of the Llano Estacado". Handbook of Texas: Llano Estacado.
  6. Fenneman, Nevin M. (January 1917). "Physiographic Subdivision of the United States". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America . 3 (1): 17–22. doi:10.1073/pnas.3.1.17. OCLC   43473694. PMC   1091163 . PMID   16586678.
  7. Brown, Ralph Hall (1948). Historical Geography of the United States. New York: Harcourt, Brace & Co. pp. 373–374. OCLC   186331193.
  8. "Top Ten Montana Weather Events of the 20th Century". National Weather Service Unveils Montana's Top Ten Weather/Water/Climate Events of the 20th Century. National Weather Service. Retrieved 1 June 2015.
  9. Why Are the High Plains So High? THECHERRYCREEKNEWS.COM, Mar 15, 2005 (2015?)
  10. Jones, Craig H.; Mahan, Kevin H.; Butcher, Lesley A.; Levandowski, William B.; Farmer, G. Lang (2015). "Continental uplift through crustal hydration". Geology . 43 (4): 355–358. doi:10.1130/G36509.1.

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