The content of North America lies within two wind belts. The northern part of the continent is in the track of prevailing Westerly Winds, while the southeastern part is in the trade wind belt, both of them are on-shore winds and cause rains.
Ocean currents also affect temperatures and rain fall along the coastal regions of North America. Cool California current in the south-west and the cold Labrador Current in the north –east lower temperatures along the coasts. The warm Alaska current in the north-west and the Gulf Stream current in the south-east warm the adjoining coastal areas.
These various factors give North America a variety of climates. This, in turn, results in a variety of vegetation.
The Arctic type of climate
The extreme north of the continent is very cold and remains covered with ice all the year round. Summer is cold and short while the winter is long and extremely cold. In the winters, the sea also freezes and remains ice-bound for more than nine months.
This is the tundra region. The vegetation consists chiefly of mosses and lichens on which a few animals like the reindeer, called caribou here, can live. The seas abound in fish. Fur-bearing animals like the Polar bear and the arctic fox are found here. The hardy Eskimo people of this region live by hunting the bear, fox and the seal. They live long the coasts.
The cold continental type of climate
This is taiga type of climate. As in Asia, the taiga lands run east to west immediately south of the tundra region. The winters in this region are very cold with a lot of snowfall. Summers are cool. Although the summers are short yet they are longer and warmer than those of the tundra.
Most of Canada, south of the tundra region, falls under this climate. The land is covered with a vast belt of conchiferous forests, extending from one end of the continent to the other. The trees consist mainly of fir, pine, spruce and larch.
Fur –bearing animals like the fox, bear, beaver and milk also occur in these forests. Wolves are also not uncommon.
Much lumbering is done in these forests. The soft wood of the coniferous trees is used for paper making.