North America is the third largest continent on earth, and would also be a portion of the second largest supercontinent if South and North America were combined into the Americas. Asia, Africa, and Europe are considered to be part of an ancient supercontinent called Afro-Eurasia.
North America has an area of 24,346,000 km² (9,400,000 mi²) and a population of 460 million.
The northern area of North America is thinly populated and covered mostly by Canada. The northeastern portion is occupied by Greenland, The northwestern parts occupied by Alaska, the largest state of the United States of America. The central and southern areas of the continent are occupied by the Mexico, the United States of America, and numerous smaller states primarily in the Caribbean and Central America.
The continent is bordered on the southeast by most geographers at the Colombia-Panama border along with the Darién watershed. This places all of Panama within North America. Alternatively, a less common opinion would end North America at the Panama Canal which is man-made. Islands that are generally associated with North America include the world’s largest island; Greenland, and other islands and archipelagos in the Caribbean zone. The terminology of the Americas is not straightforward. “Latin America” describes Mexico, the Central American countries, the entire continent of South America, and the Caribbean, while “Anglo-America” describes Canada and the U.S.,
North America is the third largest continent, spanning over an area of 24,346,000 Sq.Km and is the northernmost of the two continents found in the Western Hemisphere. North America embraces all of the mainland and related offshore islands that lie North of the Isthmus of Panama where it connects with South America. It has a variety of climates, from the steamy, damp heat of the tropics to the bitter cold of the dry Arctic. The interior of Greenland is covered by an icecap, and it is always in subzero temperatures. Temperatures rise above freezing points for only short periods of summer in the vast treeless plain of the far north, also known as the North American tundra. Low-lying areas in the far south are always hot and rainy; a tropical climate.
Most of the remaining parts of North America have warm weather in summer and cold in winter, with moderate precipitation. Some parts have harsh winters and short summers while others have mild winters. North America spreads to within 10° of latitude of both the North Pole and the equator, embracing every climatic zone, from areas of permanent ice caps in central Greenland to tropical rain forest and savanna on the lowlands of Central America. Semiarid and desert climates can be found in the interior regions. High mountains cut them off from the westerly rain-bearing winds. Tundra and subarctic climates are more prevalent in North Canada and North Alaska. A large portion of North America has temperate climates that are very favorable to agriculture and human settlement.
North America has Canada and the United States of America as two of the largest emitters of the greenhouse gasses globally. That significantly contributes to global warming which results in a warming climate. All ten of the global warming hotspots categories are found in this region, including coral reef bleaching in Florida, polar warming in Alaska, animal range shifts in California, marsh loss in the Chesapeake Bay, and glaciers melting in Montana. This higher density of early warning signs in the United States of America and in Canada is also because of the fact that these regions have more advanced access to climatic data and more programs and means to monitor and study environmental change.
Canada, Greenland, and most of the United States of America lie in the Northern hemisphere as explained before, and they have four distinct seasons:
· Spring – March, April, May
· Summer – June, July, August
· Autumn – September, October, November
· Winter – December, January, February
Central America, Mexico, southern United States, and the Caribbean have more constant temperatures throughout most of the year, but they all have in common a wet season that spans in the period from May to October and a dry season that starts in November and ends in April.
Throughout most of North America, a temperate climate is found, and it is characterized by a lack of extremes in precipitation and temperatures. There are distinct winters and summers, but they are not terribly severe. There are two subtypes of temperate climate; the continental climate, which can be found in the Eastern United States, and a maritime climate that is predominant in the Western United States. Maritime climates often show less seasonal variations in temperatures than continental climates.
Any place on earth that receives less precipitation than 10 inches of rain per year can be classified as a desert. Deserts tend to be scorching during the day and frigid during the night. Some parts of California meet are classified as deserts because they meet this definition. Some coastal regions have climates that are characterized by heavy winter rain and very hot summer droughts. This type of climate is called a Mediterranean climate.
The Cascade and Sierra Nevada mountain ranges run along North America’s entire Pacific Coast, acting as a barrier preventing the entry of the humid winds that come from the ocean. The air is forced upwards by this rising topography, which causes moisture to condense and fall on the western slopes of the mountains in the form of rain. Some areas receive more than 180 centimeters (70 inches) of rainfall per year. This results in the air losing much of its moisture and becoming dry and hot when it reaches the areas that are east of the coastal mountain ranges. These arid conditions in some cases are worsened in regions of extremely low altitude, like regions that are near or below sea level. These areas receive higher air pressure, which results in adiabatic heating effects and a drier climate. These areas are called pocket deserts, and some of them exist in valleys north of the US–Canada border in the interiors of British Columbia. The effects of precipitation generally do not last long, it gets lost chiefly to evaporation, as well as swift runoff and the efficient water storage and uptake by native vegetation.
The Canadian southern portions enjoy a temperate climate, but the northernmost regions experience a harshly cold polar climate. These climates, the polar climates, are characterized by ice cover and year-round snow, and by temperatures that only rise above freezing on rare occasions.