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Mid-Atlantic Flatwoods

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About the Mid-Atlantic Flatwoods

The Mid-Atlantic Flatwoods are a small region stretching from southern Virginia into North Carolina.

This region is a broad plain consisting of terraces, sandy ridges, and broad but shallow valleys. Dissection and relief tend to be less than in upland areas to the west, but greater than flat, poorly-drained areas to the east. The climate is humid and subtropical, with moderate precipitation year-round but a wet season July through September. Summer rains often arrive as part of large storms. This area is also affected by hurricanes and tropical storms, although slightly less vulnerable to them than coastal areas.

Natural forest cover here has been mapped as Oak-Hickory-Pine Forest on upland sites, dominated by hickory, shortleaf pine, loblolly pine, white oak, and post oak, and Southern Floodplain Forest on bottomlands, dominated by water tupelo, bald cypress, and water-loving oaks. Uplands used to have some longleaf pine (Pinus palustris) at the northern limit of its range, but this species has been mostly eliminated by logging and fire suppression. This area also has evergreen shrub bogs, called pocosins, a unique ecosystem found only in this areas. Pocosins are found on poorly-drained upland sites, located between major streams. On pocosins, a dense, fire-adapted shrub layer grows underneath an open canopy of pond pine (Pinus serotina).

This region currently has a mixture of woodland and agriculture. Main crops include corn, soybean, peanuts, and pasture crops, and there is also dairy farming and poultry and livestock production. Current forest cover on upland sites is dominated by loblolly pine and upland oaks, whereas on bottomlands, the main tree species are water tupelo, tupelo (Nyssa sylvatica), sweetgum, and other oaks.

The pocosins of this area are major carbon sinks and have been studied for their potential for carbon farming or carbon sequestration in an attempt to reduce or reverse the increase of atmospheric carbon dioxide driving global warming and global climate change.

This area is more populous than flatter, swampier areas towards the shore, but less developed than upland areas inland. The largest city and only metropolitan area of any significant size in this region is Greenville, NC, which is split between this area and the lower-elevation floodplains and low terraces, but most of the urban development is in this region. Outside of Greenville there are only small towns.

This region is interspersed with the lower-elevation Mid-Atlantic Floodplains and Low Terraces, and is bordered to the east by the lower, flatter Chesapeake-Pamlico Lowlands and Tidal Marshes, and to the west by the more upland Rolling Coastal Plain. Although it is separated by a section of floodplains and low terraces and does not directly border this one, to the southwest lie the Carolina Flatwoods. This region also encloses a small area of Swamps and Peatlands in the southeast, although the swamps and peatlands are more abundant in regions to the east and southwest.

References

1. Woods, A.J, Omernik, J.M., Brown, D.D. "Level III and IV Ecoregions of Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia", U.S. Environmental Protection Agency: National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory, Corvallis, OR (1999) Web.