Geography of Dallas

1 January 2017

To appreciate the large and intricate city, it is valuable to know the climate, vegetation, soils, landforms, and the environmental issues that are present in Dallas, and see how they affect one another. The temperature during the summer months may be “bigger” or higher than your typical state, but exploring deeper into Dallas’s physical geography, will help conjure present what makes up it’s physical attributes, and most importantly, why. After living in Dallas all of my life, I have come to recognize the range of temperature from month to month, as well as the precipitation that is typically received.

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The majority of Texas is a warm-temperature climate zone (Physical Features Influencing Vegetation in Texas); however, the Dallas-Fort Worth area can more specifically be described as having a humid subtropical climate, with hot summers (Dallas/Fort Worth Climatology). It can also be characterized as continental because of the wide range of annual temperature, and the scorching summers is caused by the westerlies and the low humidity (Dallas/Fort Worth Climatology).

Observing the Dallas climograph, it can be inferred that the average precipitation and temperature have a direct relationship. Based on the annual temperature data, it can also be concieved that the summer highs reach way into the high 90’s, with cooler nights around the mid 70’s (NWS). Rainfall typically occurs during nighttime in Dallas, and during the summer the maximum highs normally last three to five days, and are interrupted by thunderstorms (Dallas/Fort Worth Climatology).

The rainfall that occurs during the winter however is “associated with large storm systems moving from west to east under the influence of the westerly winds” (Climate Zones). So, it can be assumed that the westerlies cause the average annual precipication, which is generally higher during summer months so as to cool down and break up the heat spells. These blazing summers may be fun for swimming and getting a tan, but how does it affect the vegetation? The average precipitation that Dallas, Texas receives yearly is about 33. inches (Weather Base). This amount of annual rainfall can be directly correlated to “the natural vegetation prior to settlement [which] was a mosaic of tall grass prairie on clay soils (the Blackland and Coastal Prairies), oak woodlands on sandy soils, and juniper-oak woodlands on caliche (the Post Oak Savanna and Cross Timbers)” (Physical Features Influencing Vegetation in Texas). Texas’s vegetation, in general, gradually becomes more arid as you move east to west (Escape to Texas).

Dallas, located in about central Texas, is mainly composed of grassland, however as you move westward the vegetation changes to desert (Escape to Texas). “The diversity of Texas is evident in vegetation types, which range from temperate and subtropical forests to grasslands, shrublands and deserts” (Physical Features Influencing Vegetation in Texas). Farming and ranching is a big part of Texas, although it is not apart of the actual city area of Dallas, it is still an essential part of Texas. “Agriculture has profoundly influence[d] the landscapes of Texas in many ways” (Physical Features Influencing Vegetation in Texas).

Cattle ranching is typically seen in the areas surrounding the big cities, and the livestock encourages the spreading of “brush species such as mesquite, prickly pear, and junipers in rangelands” (Physical Features Influencing Vegetation in Texas). Since a good portion of Texas is a desert climate, the soil that is found there, is also an important aspect. Dallas, located in the northeastern part of the state, has a variety of different types of soil. The Gulf Coastal Plain is composed of red and yellow soils, which can be beneficial for the vegetation if proper fertilizer is used (Escape to Texas).

Moving more towards central Texas, it has “soils based on weathered decayed limestone” (Escape to Texas). Much of the Dallas area has grassland vegetation, which comes from Mollisol soils, which are rich in calcium and other nutrients (Ritter). The intensely hot summers cause the soil to possess high moisture retention so as not to dry up easily, but when they do become dry, they have a “granular structure and soft consistency” (Ritter). A typical soil profile of this soil type would include “dark brown to black organic rich surface layers” (Ritter).

The soil in this area has been used to alter the landscapes, and recently have been used for “cropland and pasture to grow cotton, corn, sorghum, wheat, hay, and other crops” (Physical Features Influencing Vegetation in Texas). The soil of Dallas is the base for the landforms that are present in this certain area. Texas as a whole encompasses several landforms, ranging from the highest point on the Guadeloupe Peak, all the way to lowest sea level point. Many lakes are scattered out through the hills of the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Dallas is considered to be in the Great Plains subdivision, which entails many different types of landforms.

The Edwards Plateau is located in Central Texas, and “is marked by the long ridge known as the Balcones Escarpment” (Escape to Texas). The Pecos Valley is also located in the same general area as Dallas, and consists of mainly flat rocky land. Regarding the map below (Cole), it can be interpreted that the Dallas metroplex has heights elevated anywhere from 600 to 1800 ft. of average elevation. It is also evident that the northwestern part of the state has an average higher elevation than the southeastern. Texas is made up of several natural resources.

Since farming and ranching are a big part of Texas, cotton seems to be an important resource that is widely used (Albert). The primary concern of Texas is the conservation of soil, and the protection of wildlife (Escape to Texas). Ninety nine percent of the total land area is covered by 212 soil conservation districts (Escape to Texas). Because the soil and crops is so critical for Texan’s, the state carries out many soil conservation projects to reseed the grasses and to control wind and water erosion (Escape to Texas). However, “Texas’s most serious environmental problem is the establishment of an adequate supply of water.

More than 200 reservoirs are maintained for water supply, recreation, flood control, and irrigation. Underground water supplies are also widely used for irrigation” (Escape to Texas). “Texas ranks among the most important states in biological diversity, and ranks first among the states in the number of vascular plants species” (Physical Features Influencing Vegetation in Texas). So, it can be concluded that the physical geography of this state, in particularly Dallas, is important. The humid subtropical climate comes from the direct relationship between the annual temperature and the annual precipitation.

The soils that are able to grow and produce crops, which is an essential part of livelihood, are very moisture retainable, so they are able to endure the hot and humid summers without drying out and killing the crops. The vegetation in Dallas is determined on the month that it is, however it typically includes cotton, corn, and wheat. Cotton is able to abundantly grow in this area because it is able to withstand the heat. The landforms that are dispersed through the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex area include Edwards Plateau, and Pecos Valley, both crucial to understanding the large city.

Although, Dallas is doing very well of for itself, there are a few environmental issues that they are keeping track of and trying to get under wraps. This includes the protection of the wildlife, as well as the conservation of the soils. Texas is providing several conservation projects to save the state’s crucial soils, necessary for farming and ranching. All in all, exploring more in depthly to the Dallas, Texas climate, vegetation, soils, landforms, and even taking a look at the environmental issues, can help to evaluate the city more clearly.

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