New York (state)
New York is a state in the Northeastern United States. New York was one of the original thirteen colonies. With an estimated 19.54 million residents in 2018, it is the fourth most populous state. To distinguish the state from the city with the same name, it is sometimes called New York State; the state's most populous city, New York City, makes up over 40% of the state's population. Two-thirds of the state's population lives in the New York metropolitan area, nearly 40% lives on Long Island; the state and city were both named for the 17th century Duke of York, the future King James II of England. With an estimated population of 8.62 million in 2017, New York City is the most populous city in the United States and the premier gateway for legal immigration to the United States. The New York metropolitan area is one of the most populous in the world. New York City is a global city, home to the United Nations Headquarters and has been described as the cultural and media capital of the world, as well as the world's most economically powerful city.
The next four most populous cities in the state are Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse, while the state capital is Albany. The 27th largest U. S. state in land area, New York has a diverse geography. The state is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south and Connecticut and Vermont to the east; the state has a maritime border with Rhode Island, east of Long Island, as well as an international border with the Canadian provinces of Quebec to the north and Ontario to the northwest. The southern part of the state is in the Atlantic coastal plain and includes Long Island and several smaller associated islands, as well as New York City and the lower Hudson River Valley; the large Upstate New York region comprises several ranges of the wider Appalachian Mountains, the Adirondack Mountains in the Northeastern lobe of the state. Two major river valleys – the north-south Hudson River Valley and the east-west Mohawk River Valley – bisect these more mountainous regions. Western New York is considered part of the Great Lakes region and borders Lake Ontario, Lake Erie, Niagara Falls.
The central part of the state is dominated by the Finger Lakes, a popular vacation and tourist destination. New York had been inhabited by tribes of Algonquian and Iroquoian-speaking Native Americans for several hundred years by the time the earliest Europeans came to New York. French colonists and Jesuit missionaries arrived southward from Montreal for trade and proselytizing. In 1609, the region was visited by Henry Hudson sailing for the Dutch East India Company; the Dutch built Fort Nassau in 1614 at the confluence of the Hudson and Mohawk rivers, where the present-day capital of Albany developed. The Dutch soon settled New Amsterdam and parts of the Hudson Valley, establishing the multicultural colony of New Netherland, a center of trade and immigration. England seized the colony from the Dutch in 1664. During the American Revolutionary War, a group of colonists of the Province of New York attempted to take control of the British colony and succeeded in establishing independence. In the 19th century, New York's development of access to the interior beginning with the Erie Canal, gave it incomparable advantages over other regions of the U.
S. built its political and cultural ascendancy. Many landmarks in New York are well known, including four of the world's ten most-visited tourist attractions in 2013: Times Square, Central Park, Niagara Falls, Grand Central Terminal. New York is home to the Statue of Liberty, a symbol of the United States and its ideals of freedom and opportunity. In the 21st century, New York has emerged as a global node of creativity and entrepreneurship, social tolerance, environmental sustainability. New York's higher education network comprises 200 colleges and universities, including Columbia University, Cornell University, New York University, the United States Military Academy, the United States Merchant Marine Academy, University of Rochester, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Rockefeller University, which have been ranked among the top 40 in the nation and world; the tribes in what is now New York were predominantly Algonquian. Long Island was divided in half between the Wampanoag and Lenape; the Lenape controlled most of the region surrounding New York Harbor.
North of the Lenape was the Mohicans. Starting north of them, from east to west, were three Iroquoian nations: the Mohawk, the original Iroquois and the Petun. South of them, divided along Appalachia, were the Susquehannock and the Erie. Many of the Wampanoag and Mohican peoples were caught up in King Philip's War, a joint effort of many New England tribes to push Europeans off their land. After the death of their leader, Chief Philip Metacomet, most of those peoples fled inland, splitting into the Abenaki and the Schaghticoke. Many of the Mohicans remained in the region until the 1800s, however, a small group known as the Ouabano migrated southwest into West Virginia at an earlier time, they may have merged with the Shawnee. The Mohawk and Susquehannock were the most militaristic. Trying to corner trade with the Europeans, they targeted other tribes; the Mohawk were known for refusing white settlement on their land and banishing any of their people who converted to Christianity. They posed a major threat to the Abenaki and Mohicans, while the Susquehannock conquered the Lenape in the 1600s.
The most devastating event of the century, was the Beaver Wars. From 1640–1680, Iroquoian peoples waged campaigns which extended from modern-day Michigan to Virginia against Algonquian and Siouan tribes, as well as each other; the ai
Lake Algonquin was a proglacial lake that existed in east-central North America at the time of the last ice age. Parts of the former lake are now Lake Huron, Georgian Bay, Lake Superior, Lake Michigan and inland portions of northern Michigan; the lake varied in size, but it was at its biggest during the post-glacial period and shrunk to the current Lake Huron and Georgian Bay. About 7,000 years ago, the lake was replaced by Lake Chippewa and Lake Stanley as the glaciers retreated and 3,000 years by the current Lakes Michigan and Superior. About 11,000 years before present, the Laurentian Glacier has retreated northward, forming a boundary across the northern edges of Lake Superior and Lake Huron; the water level was at 605 feet above sea level, creating a single body of water in the three basins of Lake Michigan, Lake Huron and Lake Superior. The lake drained through three outlets, the Chicago Outlet River, the St. Clair-Detroit River, through the Trent Valley; the first stage occupied only the south part of the basin of Lake Huron, including Saginaw Bay.
It received tributary drainage from smaller lakes in the south part of the Georgian Bay and Lake Simcoe basins. Its existence is based on evidence of the establishment and erosion of its outlet through the distributaries of the St. Clair River at St. Clair, on characters of the Niagara River and gorge; the steps of transition following this are physical and logical necessities, made so by the conditions of development from the first stage to the fully developed Lake Algonquin, which included all three of the upper Great Lake basins. Early Lake Algonquin12,000 YBP formed in Lake Huron Basin. Drained through Port Huron and ancestral St. Clair River to Early Lake Erie; the Tolleston beach or Calumet beach of Lake Chicago drained across the Two Creeks waterway in central Michigan, into the early Lake Algonquin. Kirkfield Low Stage Lake Chicago-Huron Stage Main Lake Algonquin11,000 YBP, the main phase of Lake Algonquin formed across both the Lake Michigan and Lake Huron basins overflowing the low lands of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
Water levels continued to fluctuate. Four water tables existed long enough to form identifiable beaches, they include the Main Algonquin, Lower Algonquin and the Fort Brady beach levels. By 10,500 YBP the lake gained a lower outlet across the front of the glacier, creating the North Bay Outlet. Running in reverse to the modern French River, across the divide into the ancestral Ottawa River. With water levels dropping, the two basins of Michigan and Huron, separated into individual lakes, entering the Lake Chippewa low phase in the Michigan Basin and the Lake Stanley Low Phase in the Huron Basin; the Early Lake Algonquin covered only part of Lake Huron. It included Saginaw Bay, but did not include Georgian Bay or any of the Lake Michigan or Lake Superior basins. Lake Chicago was in the southern portion of Lake Michigan and Lake Duluth was in the western tip of the Lake Superior basin. Lake water drained through the Port Huron outlet and down the St. Clair and Detroit rivers into Early Lake Erie.
As the glacial front melted northward, the lake expanded in the Huron basin. When it retreated north of Alpena, the waters of Lake Chicago merged with Early Lake Algonquin; the two lakes were no change of altitude. Each maintained its original outlets. List of prehistoric lakes Lake Michigan Lake Huron Glacial Lake Algonquin shoreline map for a small part of northern Michigan: http://geo.msu.edu/research_topics/geographic-information-systems/
Ontario is one of the 13 provinces and territories of Canada and is located in east-central Canada. It is Canada's most populous province accounting for 38.3 percent of the country's population, is the second-largest province in total area. Ontario is fourth-largest jurisdiction in total area when the territories of the Northwest Territories and Nunavut are included, it is home to the nation's capital city and the nation's most populous city, Ontario's provincial capital. Ontario is bordered by the province of Manitoba to the west, Hudson Bay and James Bay to the north, Quebec to the east and northeast, to the south by the U. S. states of Minnesota, Ohio and New York. All of Ontario's 2,700 km border with the United States follows inland waterways: from the west at Lake of the Woods, eastward along the major rivers and lakes of the Great Lakes/Saint Lawrence River drainage system; these are the Rainy River, the Pigeon River, Lake Superior, the St. Marys River, Lake Huron, the St. Clair River, Lake St. Clair, the Detroit River, Lake Erie, the Niagara River, Lake Ontario and along the St. Lawrence River from Kingston, Ontario, to the Quebec boundary just east of Cornwall, Ontario.
There is only about 1 km of land border made up of portages including Height of Land Portage on the Minnesota border. Ontario is sometimes conceptually divided into Northern Ontario and Southern Ontario; the great majority of Ontario's population and arable land is in the south. In contrast, the larger, northern part of Ontario is sparsely populated with cold winters and heavy forestation; the province is named after Lake Ontario, a term thought to be derived from Ontarí:io, a Huron word meaning "great lake", or skanadario, which means "beautiful water" in the Iroquoian languages. Ontario has about 250,000 freshwater lakes; the province consists of three main geographical regions: The thinly populated Canadian Shield in the northwestern and central portions, which comprises over half the land area of Ontario. Although this area does not support agriculture, it is rich in minerals and in part covered by the Central and Midwestern Canadian Shield forests, studded with lakes and rivers. Northern Ontario is subdivided into two sub-regions: Northeastern Ontario.
The unpopulated Hudson Bay Lowlands in the extreme north and northeast swampy and sparsely forested. Southern Ontario, further sub-divided into four regions. Despite the absence of any mountainous terrain in the province, there are large areas of uplands within the Canadian Shield which traverses the province from northwest to southeast and above the Niagara Escarpment which crosses the south; the highest point is Ishpatina Ridge at 693 metres above sea level in Temagami, Northeastern Ontario. In the south, elevations of over 500 m are surpassed near Collingwood, above the Blue Mountains in the Dundalk Highlands and in hilltops near the Madawaska River in Renfrew County; the Carolinian forest zone covers most of the southwestern region of the province. The temperate and fertile Great Lakes-Saint Lawrence Valley in the south is part of the Eastern Great Lakes lowland forests ecoregion where the forest has now been replaced by agriculture and urban development. A well-known geographic feature is part of the Niagara Escarpment.
The Saint Lawrence Seaway allows navigation to and from the Atlantic Ocean as far inland as Thunder Bay in Northwestern Ontario. Northern Ontario occupies 87 percent of the surface area of the province. Point Pelee is a peninsula of Lake Erie in southwestern Ontario, the southernmost extent of Canada's mainland. Pelee Island and Middle Island in Lake Erie extend farther. All are south of 42°N – farther south than the northern border of California; the climate of Ontario varies by location. It is affected by three air sources: cold, arctic air from the north; the effects of these major air masses on temperature and precipitation depend on latitude, proximity to major bodies of water and to a small extent, terrain relief. In general, most of Ontario's climate is classified as humid continental. Ontario has three main climatic regions; the surrounding Great Lakes influence the climatic region of southern Ontario. During the fall and winter months, heat stored from the lakes is released, moderating the climate near the shores of the lakes.
This gives some parts of southern Ontario milder winters than mid-continental areas at lower latitudes. Parts of Southwestern Ontario have a moderate humid continental climate, similar to that of the inland Mid-Atlantic states and the Great Lakes portion of the Midwestern United States; the region has warm to cold winters. Annual precipitation is well distributed throughout the year. Most of this region lies in the lee of the Great Lakes. In December 2010, the snowbelt set a new record when it was h
The fin whale known as finback whale or common rorqual and known as herring whale or razorback whale, is a marine mammal belonging to the parvorder of baleen whales. It is the second-largest species on Earth after the blue whale; the largest grow to 27.3 m long with a maximum confirmed length of 25.9 m, a maximum recorded weight of nearly 74 tonnes, a maximum estimated weight of around 114 tonnes. American naturalist Roy Chapman Andrews called the fin whale "the greyhound of the sea... for its beautiful, slender body is built like a racing yacht and the animal can surpass the speed of the fastest ocean steamship."The fin whale's body is long and slender, coloured brownish-grey with a paler underside. The fin whale is a large baleen whale that belongs to the Cetacean order, which includes all species of whale and porpoise. At least two recognized subspecies exist, in the Southern Hemisphere, it is found from polar to tropical waters. It is absent only from waters close to the ice pack at the poles and small areas of water away from the open ocean.
The highest population density occurs in cool waters. Its food consists of small schooling fish and crustaceans including copepods and krill. Like all other large whales, the fin whale was hunted during the 20th century; as a result, it is an endangered species. Over 725,000 fin whales were taken from the Southern Hemisphere between 1905 and 1976. Recovery of the overall population size of southern species is predicted to be at less than 50% of its pre-whaling state by 2100 due to heavier impacts of whaling and slower recovery rates; the International Whaling Commission issued a moratorium on commercial hunting of this whale, although Iceland and Japan have resumed hunting. The species is hunted by Greenlanders under the IWC's Aboriginal Subsistence Whaling provisions. Global population estimates range from less than 100,000 to 119,000; the fin whale was first described by Friderich Martens in 1675 and again by Paul Dudley in 1725. The former description was used as the primary basis of the species Balaena physalus by Carl Linnaeus in 1758.
In 1804, Bernard Germain de Lacépède reclassified the species as Balaenoptera rorqual, based on a specimen that had stranded on Île Sainte-Marguerite in 1798. In 1830, Louis Companyo described a specimen that had stranded near Saint-Cyprien, southern France, in 1828 as Balaena musculus. Most authors followed him in using the specific name musculus, until Frederick W. True showed. In 1846, British taxonomist John Edward Gray described a 16.7 m specimen from the Falkland Islands as Balaenoptera australis. In 1865, German naturalist Hermann Burmeister described a 15 m specimen found near Buenos Aires about 30 years earlier as Balaenoptera patachonicus. In 1903, Romanian scientist Emil Racoviță placed all these designations into Balaenoptera physalus; the word physalus comes from the Greek word physa, meaning "blows", referring to the prominent blow of the species. Fin whales are rorquals, members of the family Balaenopteridae, which includes the humpback whale, the blue whale, Bryde's whale, the sei whale, the minke whales.
The family diverged from the other baleen whales in the suborder Mysticeti as long ago as the middle Miocene, although it is not known when the members of these families further evolved into their own species. Recent DNA evidence indicates the fin whale may be more related to the humpback whale and in at least one study the gray whale, two whales in different genera, than it is to members of its own genus, such as the minke whales; as of 2006, two subspecies are named, each with vocalizations. The northern fin whale, B. p. physalus inhabits the North Atlantic and the southern fin whale, B. p. quoyi occupies the Southern Ocean. Most experts consider the fin whales of the North Pacific to be a third, as yet unnamed subspecies—this was supported by a 2013 study, which found that the Northern Hemisphere B. p. physalus was not composed of a single subspecies. The three groups mix at most rarely. Clarke proposed a "pygmy" subspecies, purportedly darker in colour and has black baleen, he based this on a single physically mature 19.8 m female caught in the Antarctic in 1947–48, the smaller average size of sexually and physically mature fin whales caught by the Japanese around 50°S, smaller, darker sexually immature fin whales caught in the Antarctic which he believed were a "migratory phase" of his proposed subspecies.
His proposal is not accepted and no genetic evidence for their existence is available. The genetic distance between blue and fin whales has been compared to that between a gorilla and human Nevertheless, hybrid individuals between blue and fin whales with characteristics of both are known to occur with relative frequency in both the North Atlantic and North Pacific; the DNA profile of a sampling of whale meat in the Japanese market found evidence of blue/fin hybrids. The fin whale is distinguished by its tall spout, long back, prominent dorsal fin, asymmetrical colouration; the animal's large size aids in identification, it is only confused with the blue whale, the sei whale, or, in warmer waters, Bry
The bowhead whale is a species of the family Balaenidae, in parvorder Mysticeti, genus Balaena, which once included the right whale. A stocky dark-coloured whale without a dorsal fin, it can grow 14 to 18 m in length; this thick-bodied species can weigh from 75 to 100 tonnes. They live in fertile Arctic and sub-Arctic waters, unlike other whales that migrate to low latitude waters to feed or reproduce; the bowhead was known as the Greenland right whale or Arctic whale. American whalemen called them polar whale, or Russia or Russian whale; the bowhead has the largest mouth of any animal. The bowhead was an early whaling target; the population was reduced before a 1966 moratorium was passed to protect the species. Of the five stocks of bowhead populations, three are listed as "endangered", one as "vulnerable", one as "lower risk, conservation dependent" according to the IUCN Red List; the global population is assessed as of least concern. Carl Linnaeus first described this whale in the 10th edition of his Systema Naturae.
Identical to its cousins in the North Atlantic, North Pacific and Southern Oceans, they were all thought to be a single species, collectively known as the "right whale", given the binomial name Balaena mysticetus. Today, the bowhead whale occupies a monotypic genus, separate from the right whales, as proposed by the work of John Edward Gray in 1821. For the next 180 years, the family Balaenidae was the subject of great taxonometric debate. Authorities have recategorized the three populations of right whale plus the bowhead whale, as one, three or four species, either in a single genus or in two separate genera, it was recognized that bowheads and right whales were different, but there was still no strong consensus as to whether they shared a single genus or two. As as 1998, Dale Rice, in his comprehensive and otherwise authoritative classification, Marine Mammals of the World: Systematics and Distribution, listed just two species: B. glacialis and B. mysticetus. Studies in the 2000s provided clear evidence that the three living right whale species comprise a phylogenetic lineage, distinct from the bowhead, that the bowhead and the right whales are rightly classified into two separate genera.
The right whales were thus confirmed to be in Eubalaena. The relationship is shown in the cladogram below: Balaena prisca, one of the five Balaena fossils from the late Miocene to early Pleistocene, may be the same as the modern bowhead whale; the earlier fossil record shows no related cetacean after Morenocetus, found in a South American deposit dating back 23 million years. An unknown species of right whale, the so-called "Swedenborg whale", proposed by Emanuel Swedenborg in the 18th century, was once thought to be a North Atlantic right whale by scientific consensus. Based on DNA analysis those fossil bones claimed to be from "Swedenborg whales" were confirmed to be from bowhead whales; the bowhead whale has a large, dark-coloured body and a white chin/lower jaw. The whale has a massive triangular skull. Inuit hunters have reported bowheads surfacing through 60 cm of ice; the bowhead has a bowed lower jaw and a narrow upper jaw. Its baleen is the longest of that of any whale, at 3 m, is used to strain tiny prey from the water.
The bowhead whale has paired blowholes, at the highest point of the head, which can spout a blow 6.1 m high. The whale's blubber is the thickest of that of any animal, with a maximum of 43–50 cm. Unlike most cetaceans, the bowhead does not have a dorsal fin. Bowhead whales are comparable in size to the three species of right whales. According to whaling captain William Scoresby Jr. the longest bowhead he measured was 17.7 m long, while the longest measurement he had heard of was of a 20.4 m whale caught at Godhavn, Greenland, in early 1813. He spoke of one, caught near Spitsbergen around 1800, nearly 21.3 m long. In 1850, an American vessel claimed to have caught a 24.54 m individual in the Western Arctic. It is questionable whether these lengths were measured; the longest reliably measured were a male of 16.2 m and a female of 18 m, both landed in Alaska. On average, female bowheads are larger than males. Analysis of hundreds of DNA samples from living whales and from baleen used in vessels and housing material has shown that Arctic bowhead whales have lost a significant portion of their genetic diversity in the past 500 years.
Bowheads crossed ice-covered inlets and straits to exchange genes between Atlantic and Pacific populations. This conclusion was derived from analyzing maternal lineage using mitochondrial DNA. Whaling and climatic cooling during the Little Ice Age, from the 16th century to the 19th, is supposed to have reduced the whales' summer habitats, which explains the loss of genetic diversity. A 2013 discovery has clarified the function of the bowhead's large palatal retial organ; the bulbous ridge of vascularized tissue, the corpus cavernosum maxillaris, extends along the centre of the hard plate, forming two large lobes at the rostral palate. The tissue is histologically similar to that of the corpus cavernosum of the mammalian penis, it is hypothesized. During physical exertion, the whale must cool itself to prevent hyperthermia, it is believed that this orga
Last Glacial Maximum
The Last Glacial Maximum was the most recent time during the Last Glacial Period when ice sheets were at their greatest extent. Vast ice sheets covered much of North America, northern Europe, Asia; the ice sheets profoundly affected Earth's climate by causing drought, a large drop in sea levels. The ice sheets reached their maximum coverage about 26,500 years ago. Deglaciation commenced in the Northern Hemisphere at 20 ka and in Antarctica at 14.5 ka, consistent with evidence for an abrupt rise in the sea level at about 14.5 ka. The LGM is referred to in Britain as the Dimlington Stadial, dated by Nick Ashton to between 31 and 16 ka. In the archaeology of Paleolithic Europe, the LGM spans the Gravettian, Magdalenian and Périgordian; the LGM was followed by the Late Glacial. According to Blue Marble 3000, the average global temperature around 19,000 BC was 9.0 °C. This is about 6.0 °C colder than the 2013-2017 average. The figures given by the Intergovernmental Panel On Climate Change estimate a lower global temperature than the figures given by the Zurich University of Applied Sciences.
However, these figures are open more to interpretation. According to the IPCC, average global temperatures increased by 5.5 ± 1.5 °C since the last glacial maximum, the rate of warming was about 10 times slower than that of the 20th Century. It appears that they are defining the present as sometime in the 19th Century for this case, but they don’t specify exact years, or give a temperature for the present. Berkeley Earth puts out a list of average global temperatures by year. If you average all of the years from 1850 to 1899, the average temperature comes out to 13.8 °C. When subtracting 5.5 ± 1.5 °C from the 1850-1899 average, the average temperature for the last glacial maximum comes out to 8.3 ± 1.5 °C. This is about 6.7 ± 1.5 °C colder than the 2013-2017 average. This figure is open to interpretation because the IPCC does not specify 1850-1899 as being the present, or give any exact set of years as being the present, it does not state whether or not they agree with the figures given by Berkeley Earth.
According to the United States Geological Survey, permanent summer ice covered about 8% of Earth's surface and 25% of the land area during the last glacial maximum. The USGS states that sea level was about 125 meters lower than in present times; when comparing to the present, the average global temperature was 15.0 °C for the 2013-2017 period. About 3.1% of Earth's surface and 10.7% of the land area is covered in year-round ice. The formation of an ice sheet or ice cap requires both prolonged precipitation. Hence, despite having temperatures similar to those of glaciated areas in North America and Europe, East Asia remained unglaciated except at higher elevations; this difference was. These anticyclones generated air masses that were so dry on reaching Siberia and Manchuria that precipitation sufficient for the formation of glaciers could never occur; the relative warmth of the Pacific Ocean due to the shutting down of the Oyashio Current and the presence of large'east-west' mountain ranges were secondary factors preventing continental glaciation in Asia.
All over the world, climates at the Last Glacial Maximum were cooler and everywhere drier. In extreme cases, such as South Australia and the Sahel, rainfall could be diminished by up to 90% from present, with florae diminished to the same degree as in glaciated areas of Europe and North America. In less affected regions, rainforest cover was diminished in West Africa where a few refugia were surrounded by tropical grasslands; the Amazon rainforest was split into two large blocks by extensive savanna, the tropical rainforests of Southeast Asia were affected, with deciduous forests expanding in their place except on the east and west extremities of the Sundaland shelf. Only in Central America and the Chocó region of Colombia did tropical rainforests remain intact – due to the extraordinarily heavy rainfall of these regions. Most of the world's deserts expanded. Exceptions were in what is now the western United States, where changes in the jet stream brought heavy rain to areas that are now desert and large pluvial lakes formed, the best known being Lake Bonneville in Utah.
This occurred in Afghanistan and Iran, where a major lake formed in the Dasht-e Kavir. In Australia, shifting sand dunes covered half the continent, whilst the Chaco and Pampas in South America became dry. Present-day subtropical regions lost most of their forest cover, notably in eastern Australia, the Atlantic Forest of Brazil, southern China, where open woodland became dominant due to drier conditions. In northern China – unglaciated despite its cold climate – a mixture of grassland and tundra prevailed, here, the northern limit of tree growth was at least 20° farther south than today. In the period before the Last Glacial Maximum, many areas that became barren desert were wetter than they are today, notably in southern Australia, where Aboriginal occupation is believed to coincide with a wet period between 40,000 and 60,000 years Before Present. During the Last Glacial Maximum, much of the world was cold and inhospitable
The Niagara Escarpment is a long escarpment, or cuesta, in the United States and Canada that runs predominantly east/west from New York, through Ontario, Michigan and Illinois. The escarpment is most famous as the cliff over which the Niagara River plunges at Niagara Falls, for which it is named; the Escarpment is a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve. It has the oldest forest ecosystem and trees in eastern North America; the Escarpment is composed of the Lockport geological formation of Silurian age, is similar to the Onondaga geological formation, which runs parallel to it and just to the south, through western New York and southern Ontario. The Escarpment is the most prominent of several escarpments formed in the bedrock of the Great Lakes Basin. From its easternmost point near Watertown, New York, the escarpment shapes in part the individual basins and landforms of Lakes Ontario and Michigan. In Rochester, New York, three waterfalls over the escarpment are where the Genesee River flows through the city.
The escarpment thence runs westward to the Niagara River, forming a deep gorge north of Niagara Falls, which itself cascades over the escarpment. In southern Ontario, it spans the Niagara Peninsula following the Lake Ontario shore through the cities of St. Catharines and Dundas, where it takes a sharp turn north in the town of Milton toward Georgian Bay, it follows the Georgian Bay shore northwestwards to form the spine of the Bruce Peninsula and Manitoulin Island, as well as several smaller islands in northern Lake Huron, where it turns westwards into the Upper Peninsula of northern Michigan, south of Sault Ste. Marie, it extends southwards into Wisconsin following the Door Peninsula through the Bayshore Blufflands and more inland from the western coast of Lake Michigan and Milwaukee, ending northwest of Chicago near the Wisconsin-Illinois border. Study of rock exposures and drillholes demonstrates that no displacement of the rock layers occurs at the escarpment: this is not a fault line but the result of unequal erosion.
The escarpment's caprock is dolomitic limestone, more resistant and overlies weaker, more eroded shale as a weathering-resistant "cap". The escarpment thus formed over millions of years through a process of differential erosion of rocks of different hardnesses. Through time the soft rocks erode by the action of streams; the gradual removal of the soft rocks undercuts the resistant caprock, leaving a cliff or escarpment. The erosional process is most seen at Niagara Falls, where the river has quickened the process, it can be seen at the three waterfalls of the Genesee River at Rochester. In some places thick glacial deposits, such as the Oak Ridges Moraine, conceal the Niagara Escarpment, such as north of Georgetown, where it continues under glacial till and reappears farther north; the dolostone cap was laid down as sediment on the floor of a marine environment. In Michigan, behind the escarpment, the cuesta capstone slopes to form a wide basin, the floor of an Ordovician-Silurian-age tropical sea.
There the constant deposition of minute shells and fragments of biologically-generated calcium carbonate, mixed with sediment washed in by erosion of the lifeless landmasses formed a limestone layer. During the Silurian period, some magnesium substituted for some of the calcium in the carbonates forming harder sedimentary strata in the same fashion. Worldwide sea levels were at their all-time maximum in the Ordovician; this dolostone basin contains Lakes Michigan and Erie. The Welland Canal allows ships to traverse the escarpment between Lake Erie and Lake Ontario on the Niagara Peninsula of Ontario; the escarpment was a major obstacle in the construction of the Erie Canal in New York and was traversed by a series of locks. In southern Ontario, the Bruce Trail runs the length of the escarpment from Queenston on the Niagara River to Tobermory on the Bruce Peninsula. Highway 401, Canada's busiest crosses the Niagara Escarpment, beginning its long descent through rolling hills and towns west of Milton.
Rock exposed on the face of the escarpment can be seen along Highway 26 from Owen Sound eastwards towards Meaford, Ontario. Hamilton, Ontario, is on the escarpment in such a way that the north end of the city is below and the south part above. Affectionately referred to as "The Mountain" by its residents, many roads or "mountain accesses" join the urban core below with the suburban expansion above. High Cliff State Park in Wisconsin shows how modern and prehistoric humans used the escarpment for not only cultural reasons, but economic gains, as well. A number of different animal and geometric effigy mounds and the remains of an early 20th-century limestone quarry and kiln are within the park; the relief and exposed edge are used by several wind farms stretching from Pipe, Wisconsin, to Brownsville, Wisconsin. Wind speeds average 18 mph along this stretch; the Niagara Escarpment is a prominent feature just east of Fond du Lac, it is known there as "The Ledge". Some local organizations take their name from it, including The Ledgers, the sports teams at St. Mary's Springs Academy, perched on the side of the escarpment.
Many resorts and ski areas in Ontario, Wiscon