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Physical Geography of Saskatchewan

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PhysicalGeography of SaskatchewanIntroductionSaskatchewan is situated in the centralPrairie between Alberta on the west and Manitoba on the east. Its neighbouron the north is the North West Territories, and on the south it borderswith the United States. Saskatchewan is rectangular in shape–it is theonly Canadian province none of whose borders was determined by the landformfeature like river or mountain range. The province is located in the CentralStandard Time and doesn’t switch on Daylight Saving Time in summer. Thepopulation of Saskatchewan is around one million people with the area of651 900 km2.

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Physical and Natural DescriptionGeologic History–Land Formation, Typesof Rocks, and MineralsThe northeastern part of Saskatchewan isa part of the Canadian Shield that was formed during Precambrian era andfeatures some of the oldest rocks in the world. The border that separatesthe Canadian Shield from the rest of the province runs across Saskatchewanfrom south-east to north-west. This part of the province was formed duringPrecambrian era and contains igneous and metamorphic rocks. From the mineralsfound in that part of the Shield the most abundant and the most importantfor Saskatchewan is the metallic mineral uranium that can be used for buildingthe nuclear reactors or exported to the other countries.

The rest of the province, except for theextreme southwest which is occupied by the Hills, is situated on the SaskatchewanPlain which is a part of the Interior Plains that are, in turn, part ofthe Great Plains of North America. This part was formed under water whenthe mountains of the Canadian Shield eroded and deposited on the bottomof the shallow seas that it was surrounded by. The process was completedduring the Mesozoic era. This part is relatively flat with gently rollinghills and occasional valleys. The most important minerals that are foundin this area composed of soft and hard sedimentary rock are the non-metallicminerals like potash which is widely used as a fertilizer and some oil.

Major Landform FeaturesThe major landform feature of the provinceis the escarpment created by erosion that separates Saskatchewan Plainfrom Alberta Plain and Manitoba Plain. Except for the Cypress Hills nearthe U.S. border, Saskatchewan lies on a plain. Its landscape is not absolutelyflat–Saskatchewan is the province of gently rolling rounded hills.

ClimateSaskatchewan is a part of the two climaticregions: Prairie on the south and Boreal on the north. The climatic characteristicsof both are somewhat similar, but there are certain differences. For example,being situated farther north the Boreal region has colder winters and coolersummers. Both regions receive little precipitation, but the Prairie regiontends to be drier than Boreal.

Saskatchewan climate is sharply continental.

Since there is no mountain range on the north or on the south, the provinceis open to both cold Arctic air masses and warm air coming from the Gulfof Mexico. This results in long cold winters and hot summers. The annualtemperature range in Saskatchewan, therefore, is one of the highest inCanada.

There is very little precipitation in Saskatchewanbecause the air that is brought to the province from the Pacific coastis dry–it loses all its moisture before it crosses the mountain rangein form of relief precipitation. The air that comes from the other directionsis also dry. Thus, not only does Saskatchewan have little precipitation,it also receives more sunshine than any other province. The Saskatchewantown of Estevan–a “sunshine capital” of Canada –gets 2540 hours of sunshineper year.

No description of Saskatchewan climatewill be complete without mentioning of the blizzards–prairie storms withwinds of 11m/s that can last for six hours or more. It is most likelyto occur in February, in southwestern Saskatchewan. Right after those stormsthe transportation and communication systems are disrupted, so the wholecities can be paralyzed for several days.

Soil and Natural Vegetation.

Vegetation Regions.

Saskatchewan has three natural vegetationregions–the grassland, the parkland, and the boreal forest. Each one hasdifferent soil and different natural vegetation.

The very south of Saskatchewan is occupiedby the grassland–the driest area of the province and one of the driestin the country–where only grass can grow. The general trend is that themore precipitation the area receives the taller the grass that can growin that area. The trees can only grow near the rivers so that they canget enough moisture.

Another vegetation region of the provinceis the parkland that separates the grassland and the boreal forest. Thisarea is covered with trees–deciduous trees grow in the southern part,while the coniferous trees occupy the north of the region. Parkland isa transitional point between the grassland and the boreal forest.

Finally, the most northern of the threeboreal forest occupies the largest area of Saskatchewan. The coniferoustrees are the most abundant in that region because they are much more adaptiveand can survive harsher conditions as compared to the broad-leaved trees.

However, some broad-leaved trees can also be found there.

As the glaciers moved from north to southduring the Ice Age, the thick layer of soil was brought to the southernpart of the province. Therefore, Prairie (grassland and parkland) has avery good soil and is an ideal region for the certain crops like wheat.

Note that originally the soils weren’t that good for agriculture, however,as more humus was formed by the decayed vegetation, the wonderful blacksoils that are ideal for agriculture (chernozem) were produced. Most ofthe boreal forest, however, grows on the Canadian Shield that has verythin layer of soil that is also less fertile than the black soil of thePrairie region since trees that produce less humus than the grass does.

WildlifeThe wildlife of Saskatchewan was largelyinfluenced by people. The “anthropological factor” tends to bring instabilityto the balanced ecosystem, and in case with Saskatchewan it’s not an exception.

Most of the wildlife that once was found in the province in abundance isnow very rare.

For example, the huge herds of bison–estimated50 million in total–were once found in Saskatchewan. However by the endof the 19th century, they were hunted out and now live only in protectedherds. Black-tailed prairie dog also used to live in southern Saskatchewanin very large numbers. These animals’ population was significantly reducedby the farmers because they harmed crops and livestock (their burrows aredangerous for the livestock.) Today the only place where they can be foundin the local settings is the Frenchman River valley.

On the north, which is less densely populated,more wildlife was preserved. The moose and beers as well as several smallermammals were found there. However, the populations of cougar and lynx inSaskatchewan north are small and are currently decreasing.

Coyotes and deer are found all across theprovince, and the herds of pronghorn live in southwestern part. In thesummer millions of ducks nest and breed in Saskatchewan leaving to thesouth when winter comes. There are fish found in the many lakes of Saskatchewan;nine species of are present in the province.

Not all of the wildlife is desirable. Forinstance, the grasshoppers are a serious problem because they can harmthe farming significantly wiping out a lot of crop.

Ecozone Description–PrairiePrairie occupies the southern part ofSaskatchewan. As it was mentioned earlier in the essay, it is not preservedin its natural state because it’s a major agricultural area. There are,however, many birds living in Prairie including Partridges, pheasants,and sage grouse. The endangered species found in Saskatchewan are the PrairieFalcon, the Ferrugionus Hawk, the Greater Prairie Chicken, and the BurrowingOwl. Most of the Saskatchewan population lives here mainly working in agriculture,mining and petroleum. Of course, there is much more to say about this ecozone,but the information on climate, wildlife, landform features, and the characteristicsof vegetation regions can be found under these corresponding subheadingsin the other part of the essay.

Natural ResourcesAgriculture is the major occupation ofthe province and something it is famous for and proud of. The Prairie blacksoil and climate are ideal for cultivation of crops, in particular wheat.

More than one half of all the Canadian wheat is grown in Saskatchewan,for this reason the province is often called Canadian breadbasket. Miningis also important in both north and south. The northern part situated onthe Canadian Shield possesses a lot of valuable metallic mineral uranium–estimatedon third of total Canadian known resources. On the south the non-metallicminerals were left after the shallow seas that covered the region evaporated.

The most abundant one is potash that is mined in the southeastern partof the province.

Salt, oil, gold, gravel, and sand are alsomined in the province as well as sodium sulphate that is used to make paper.

Since there are no oceans or seas anywhere near Saskatchewan fishing isnot very important industry of the province. However, there is some fisheryon the north because in the northern lakes there are walleye, whitefish,lake trout, and pike present. Most of the Saskatchewan’s electricity isproduced by burning coal. The two major hydroelectric stations are foundon the Churchill River and on the South Saskatchewan River.

Famous Natural FeaturesOn of the famous natural features of Saskatchewanis the Cypress Hills. They are found in the extreme southwest of the province,near the U.S. border. These hills rise several hundred metres above thePrairie. Newcomers to the prairies described the Cypress Hills as an islandof forest in a sea of grass.

National ParkA National Park is an area of area wherewilderness is preserved. The most famous Saskatchewan national park isPrince Albert National Park which 3875 km2 in area. It’s a region of aspenparkland and boreal forest. It was established as a national park in 1927.

Being a preserved and protected area, the park is very rich in wildlifeincluding elk, caribou, moose, deer, lynx, otter, and plains bison. Italso features the only protected White Pelican colony in Canada. Thereare 31 provincial parks and another National Park called Grassland NationalPark Reserve that is one of the last areas where the colonies of Black-tailedprairie dogs, rattlesnakes, pronghorn, and the Prairie Falcon are found.

Personal OpinionI think that Saskatchewan is a wonderfulplace to visit. Northern Saskatchewan is well known for its fishing andhunting camps. Another attractions are summer rodeos. If you want to exploreCanada no tour will be complete without visiting the legendary prairies,thousands of lakes, wonderful nature of Saskatchewan. Even though historyof Saskatchewan is not in the scope of this essay, I have to mention thatSaskatchewan is where a lot of Canadian history took place–an exampleis the creation of the legendary North-West Canadian Mountain Police thatearned great respect and reputation for fairness.

Cite this Physical Geography of Saskatchewan

Physical Geography of Saskatchewan. (2018, Nov 06). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/physical-geography-of-saskatchewan/

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