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Middle Atlantic Coastal Plain

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Map Legend & Subregion List

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NameColor on MapEPA Code*
Delaware River Terraces and Uplands63a
Chesapeake-Pamlico Lowlands and Tidal Marshes63b
Swamps and Peatlands63c
Virginian Barrier Islands and Coastal Marshes63d
Mid-Atlantic Flatwoods63e
Delmarva Uplands63f
Carolinian Barrier Islands and Coastal Marshes63g
Carolina Flatwoods63h
Mid-Atlantic Floodplains and Low Terraces63n

* This code refers to the US EPA's Level 4 ecoregion codes for the continental U.S., see here.

About the Middle Atlantic Coastal Plain

The Middle Atlantic Coastal Plain is a region covering most of the coastal plain from the border of South Carolina and Georgia, northeast to southern New Jersey.

This region tends to be flat and poorly-drained, with dunes, beaches, and barrier islands along the coastline, usually with extensive wetlands behind them. There are numerous estuaries, including the Chesapeake bay, the Delaware bay, and Pamlico and Albemarle sounds in North Carolina. The climate is humid and subtropical. Frost and snow is common in the north, but becomes milder and less common in the south, although all parts of this region can experience significant snowfall in a cold winter. The northern end of this region has essentially no seasonality of precipitation, but seasonality becomes stronger as one moves south, with a wet season starting June-July, peaking in August, and continuing through September. This area is also subject to hurricanes and other tropical storms originating in the Atlantic ocean; the rate and severity of these storms tends to increase to the south.

Original vegetation was mostly longleaf pine forest, and oak-hickory-pine forest to the north. Longleaf pine has been greatly reduced and mostly replaced with loblolly and shortleaf pine.

This area is heavily utilized for forestry, with large-scale pine plantations, used both for lumber and pulp. There is some cropland, with more farther north. Crop production here include grains, potatoes, cotton, blueberries, and peanuts. Certain areas have intense poultry and pig farming.

This area has some urbanization, but none of the biggest metro areas of the East Coast; the largest urban area here is the Hampton Roads area (Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News).

Most of this region is bordered to the northwest (inland) by the Southeastern Plains, a slightly more upland area. At the northernmost part of this region, it directly borders the Northern Piedmont to the northwest. To the south, this region transitions into the Southern Coastal plain, and to the north, the Atlantic Coastal Pine Barrens. With the exception of the border with the Northern Piedmont, which is marked by a fall line, these borders all represent gradual transitions.

References

1. Wiken, E., Griffith, G. "North American Terrestrial Ecoregions - Level III", Commission for Environmental Cooperation, (2011) Web.