Home » Regions » North America » Eastern Temperate Forests » Mississippi Alluvial & Southeast USA Coastal Plains » Atlantic Coastal Pine Barrens » Cape Cod/Long Island

Cape Cod/Long Island

Page contents

About the Cape Cod/Long Island

The Cape Cod / Long Island region consists of several disjoint pieces, including all of Cape Cod and surrounding islands, as well as much of the eastern portion of Long Island. The region covers the area closest to the coast in and around Cape Cod, but on Long Island it exists mainly inland and does not extend the whole way to the coast. It also does not include the coast of Rhode Island and eastern Connecticut between the two main pieces of this region.

This climate here could be considered the coldest end of a humid subtropical climate, contrasting with the humid continental climates farther inland. The climate here is heavily influenced by the ocean: compared to inland areas, summers are cooler and winters warmer, and its seasons are delayed, with cool, late springs and mild falls. The climate is influenced more by the cold Labrador Current than by the warmer Gulf Stream, which influences areas farther south.

Terrain here is mostly glacial in origin, consisting of outwash plains and terminal moraines. There are abundant wetlands and bodies of water, including kettle ponds, salt marshes and freshwater marshes, and bogs. Coastal areas also feature sand dunes. The soil is coarse, sandy, and nutrient-poor.

Much of the area here was naturally covered by pitch pine and oak woodland, with tree growth stunted by low moisture availability, and the landscape shaped by fire. Unique plant communities exist around some of the freshwater rivers and ponds on Long Island.

This area has been heavily developed for housing, although not as densely as regions inland, and there is also significant agriculture. Although soils here are poor, the mild climate results in an unusually long growing season for the northeast. Diversified truck crops and nursery stock production make up the bulk of agriculture here.

On Long Island, this region is bordered coastally by the Barrier Islands and Coastal Marshes, and on the side of Long Island Sound, by the Long Island Sound Coastal Lowland, which also extends along the southern coast of Connecticut and Rhode Island. Inland of Cape Cod, this region is bordered by the Narragansett/Bristol Lowland. North of Cape Cod, along the coast, it is bordered by the Gulf of Maine Coastal Lowland.

This photo shows a landscape typical of the Cape Cod region, with sandy soils and scrubby, stunted plant growth of oak and pitch pine, limited by moisture. Photo © Beth Knittle, CC BY-SA 2.0, Source.

References

1. Griffith, G.E., Omernik, J.M., Bryce, S.A., Royte, J., Hoar, W.D., Homer, J.W., Keirstead, D., Metzler, K.J., and Hellyer, G. "Ecoregions of New England (Poster)", U.S. Geological Survey (2009) Web.

2. Bryce, S.A., Griffith, G.E., Omernik, J.M., Edinger, G., Indrick, S., Vargas, O., and Carlson, D. "Ecoregions of New York (Poster)", U.S. Geological Survey (2010) Web.