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Point Pelee National Park

Travel Guide North America Canada Ontario Point Pelee National Park

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Introduction

Point Pelee National Park is a national park located in Essex County in southwestern Ontario, Canada where it extends into Lake Erie. The word pelée is French for 'bald'. Point Pelee consists of a peninsula of land, mainly of marsh and woodland habitats, that tapers to a sharp point as it extends into Lake Erie. Middle Island, also part of Point Pelee National Park, was acquired in 2000 and is located just north of the Canada - United States border in Lake Erie. Point Pelee is the southernmost point of mainland Canada, and is located on a foundation of glacial sand, silt and gravel that bites into Lake Erie. This spit of land is slightly more than seven kilometres long by 4.5 kilometres wide at its northern base. Established in 1918, Point Pelee was the first national park in Canada to be established for conservation. It was designated as a Ramsar site on 27 May 1987.

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Geography

Located in the western parts of the St. Lawrence Lowlands, the park is a sandspit formation that extends 15 kilometres into Lake Erie and is up to 70 metres thick. With an area of only 1,564 hectares, it is Canada's smallest national park. Most of the park consists of marsh, dominated by cattails and ponds although forested areas make up a significant portion of the park, covering about 21% of the park. This sandspit is dominated by till plains which was formed during the last ice age during the advance and retreat of the Wisconsonian ice on a submerged limestone ridge. As the glacier melted and retreated northward, the Lake Erie basin began to fill with water. The movement of sediments altered the coastline, resulting in the present day shape of Point Pelee. Subsequently over the centuries, a thin but rich soil has formed. Mineral soils in the park were mapped as well to rapidly drained Eastport sand, which has insignificant profile development. The marshes began to form about 3,200 years ago, based on carbon dating. This was also the same time when the sands began to deposit, forming the present day barriers. The marsh has a closed drainage system owing to the separation of it by two barriers along the east and west side, which usually prevents the free exchange of water. However, when lake levels are higher, the marsh water levels fluctuate with the lake's water levels. The distinctive triangular shape at the southern tip of Point Pelee is caused by the convergence of these two barriers. Middle island, which is located south of the Point Pelee peninsula has an area of approximately 18.5 hectares and is the southernmost point in Canada. Virtually all of Middle Island is forested.

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Weather

Point Pelee has a humid continental climate with warm, humid summers, and cold winters that is modified by the surrounding waters of Lake Erie. It lies in a zone that is characterized by variable weather due to conflict between polar and tropical air masses. Its position in Lake Erie modifies its climate, resulting in warmer winter and fall temperatures compared to inland regions, as the lake cools more slowly than the surrounding land though during the spring, temperatures remain cooler than inland areas due to the land warming faster than the lake.

Winters are cold with a January average temperature of -3.9 °C. Owing to its position in Lake Erie, winter temperatures are more warmer than inland locations at a similar latitude due to the release of the heat stored by the lake. As a result, temperatures below -20 °C are rare, with only 1.9 days where the temperature reaches or falls below -20 °C. The maximum temperature usually stays below freezing on most days although mild spells of weather can occur time to time. The park receives 98.9 centimetres of snowfall per year and there are 30.6 days with measurable snow. The park is not located in the snowbelt region, and snow cover is intermittent through the winter.

Summers are warm and humid with the warmest month, July, averaging 22.4 °C, which is among the highest in Ontario. The surrounding lake moderates summertime temperatures, cooling the flow of warm air masses originating from the Gulf of Mexico and as a result, temperatures above 30 °C are rare, with only 4–8 days per year in the park.

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This is version 1. Last edited at 10:40 on Feb 29, 16 by Utrecht. 1 article links to this page.

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