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Nebraska Geography: The Land
Geography and Landforms of NebraskaFind an overview of Nebraska geography, topography, geographic land area, and major rivers. Access Nebraska almanac furnishing more details on the state geography, climate and weather, elevation, land area, bordering states, and other statistical data.
Nebraska is bordered by South Dakota on the north and by Colorado and Kansas on the south. On the east, Nebraska is bordered by Iowa and Missouri, and on the west, by Colorado and Wyoming.
Major Nebraska rivers include the Missouri, the Niobrara, and the Platte. Nebraska is located in the center of the continental United States.
The far northwestern corner of the Nebraska includes a small area of Badlands where wind and water have shaped the sandstone and clay into strange natural formations. Toadstool Park, part of the Ogallala National Grasslands, is part of this area.
Nebraska is made up of these Physiographic Areas
Central Mixed-grass Prairie
The majority of the Central Mixed-grass Prairie occurs in central Kansas and Nebraska, with a small portion in southern South Dakota. The northern and western portions are covered by the Nebraska Sandhills, an area of rolling, irregular dunes interspersed with gently sloping valleys and numerous small wetlands. The remainder of the physiographic area is a dissected loess plain drained by several major rivers. Whereas all of the uplands are naturally mixed and tallgrass prairie communities, the larger river valleys support northern floodplain forests.
Central Shortgrass Prairie
The Central Shortgrass Prairie Physiographic Area covers much of eastern Colorado and smaller portions of western Kansas, southwestern Nebraska, and southeastern Wyoming.
The region contains flat to gently rolling topography, with occasional canyons and bluffs. Elevations within Colorado range from about 975 m (3,200 ft) in Prowers County to about 1800 m (6,000 ft) around Limon and near the foothills of the Rockies. Principal rivers include the South
Platte, Arikaree, Big Sandy, Republican, and Arkansas. Precipitation is low, less than 50 cm (20 in) per year with most of that falling in spring and summer; total precipitation varies greatly between years at a given location and varies significantly more than in mixed grass or tallgrass
systems (Wiens 1972). Mean monthly temperatures range from -12¡C (10¡F) in winter to 38¡C (100¡F) in summer. Localized severe weather is not uncommon, and blizzards, hailstorms, and tornadoes occur in most years.
Dissected Till Plains
The Dissected Till Plains occupy much of Iowa, eastern Nebraska, northwest Missouri, and small parts of northwest Illinois, southern Minnesota, and northeast Kansas. This area was glaciated, uplifted, and subsequently eroded into a flat-to-rolling terrain that slopes gently toward the Missouri and Mississippi River Valleys. Natural vegetation is a mosaic of tallgrass bluestem prairie and oak-hickory forest with oak savannahs characteristic of transition zones. Bottomland hardwoods grow in river valleys.
West River is comprised of those areas west of the Missouri River in North Dakota and South Dakota, including the Black Hills, as well as a small portion of northwestern Nebraska. It is predominantly a grassland, with riparian woodlands along major waterways and coniferous forest in the
Black Hills and other isolated highlands in the west. This area is a mixed grass prairie, but is considerably drier than either the Northern Mixed Grass Prairie physiographic area to the east or the Nebraska Sandhills of the Central Mixed Grass Prairie to the south. Because it was not
recently glaciated, it lacks the prairie potholes so important to wetland birds. Large areas in the western portion of this area are highly dissected landscapes known as "badlands."
Nebraska Landscape and Landforms:
Dissected Till Plains
Dissected Till Plains in the eastern part of the state rise to the Great Plains in the north central and northwest parts of the state. This area cover the eastern fifth of Nebraska. It consists of rolling hills criss-crossed by streams and rivers. The Dissected Till Plains are farm country and fields of corn, soybeans, sorghum grain, and other crops blanket the region.
The Great Plains of Nebraska lie to the west of the Till Plains and extend across the state into Wyoming and Colorado. Loess covers the central and south-central Great Plains. This area can be rough and hilly. A relatively flat area in the southeastern section, interspersed with lakes and wetlands, is farmed intensely. This area, about 7,000 square miles, is called The Loess Plains.
Forty-eight of the States are in the single region between Canada and Mexico; this group is referred to, with varying precision and formality, as the continental or contiguous United States, and as the Lower 48. Alaska, which is not included in the term contiguous United States, is at the northwestern end of North America, separated from the Lower 48 by Canada. The State of Hawaii is an archipelago in the Pacific Ocean. The capital city, Washington, District of Columbia, is a federal district located on land donated by the state of Maryland.
(Virginia had also donated land, but it was returned in 1847.) The United States also have overseas territories.