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Ecoregions of New Hampshire

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About the Ecoregions of New Hampshire

New Hampshire is a small state in New England. Its borders correspond more to ecological boundaries than those of most New England States due to its north-south orientation and western border following the Connecticut River, but its eastern and southern borders still cut across many ecoregions. The state can be divided into 11 ecoregions, which can be treated as part of two broader regions.

Most of the state is considered part of the Northeastern Highlands, a more rugged, higher-elevation region with a colder climate, but the southeast and far southwest of the state are part of the Northeastern Coastal Zone, a region with lower elevations and a milder climate.

In the southwest, the northernmost part of the Connecticut Valley intersects the state in a small area; this region is mostly located within Massachusetts and Connecticut. A much larger area, in the southeast of the state, is the Gulf of Maine Coastal Plain, which contains most of the state's population, and its four largest cities. Southeast of this, along the coast, lies the Gulf of Maine Coastal Lowland. Both of these milder regions extend well outside the state into Maine and Massachusetts.

The north of the state contains the most rugged mountains. The White Mountains/Blue Mountains region extends northeast into Maine, but reaches the highest elevations in New Hampshire. North of these mountains, the Quebec/New England Boundary Mountains extend much farther northeast into Maine, as well as into Quebec; this region is slightly lower in elevation, but colder due to its more northerly location. The highest peaks in these regions are separated into an Upper Montane/Alpine Zone, which includes Mount Washington, the highest point not only in the state, but anywhere in the northeast.

The rest of the state can be roughly seen as in a transitional zone between the mountains and lowlands. The Northern Connecticut Valley extends in a narrow strip along the western border of the state with Vermont. East of this, a thin strip of the Vermont Piedmont is located within the state; most of this region resides in Vermont.

Only two regions are wholly contained within New Hampshire: the White Mountain Foothills partly surround the White Mountains to the west, and south of this region, the Sunapee Uplands extend a bit farther south, especially in the west.

Toward the south of the state, the irregular Worcester/Monadnock Plateau extends well into Massachusetts, and in the east, the lake-rich Sebago-Ossipee Hills and Plains extend into Maine.

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.