Reasons for Alabama High Biodiversity
• Climate - variation in temp. and precipitation
across the state from north to south
• Physiography - a mixing point for many
geographic ranges, good geological and
• Water Resources - lots of water of different
types and many isolated rivers results in many
Alabama's three climatic divisions are the lower coastal plain,
largely subtropical and strongly influenced by the Gulf of Mexico;
the northern plateau, marked by occasional snowfall in winter; and
the Black Belt and upper coastal plain, lying between the two
extremes. Mobile is one of the wettest cities in the United States,
recorded an average precipitation of 66.3 in (168 cm) a year
between 1971 and 2000. Westerlies, which are air currents that
flow across the U.S., cause most of the weather to approach from
the west. However tropical systems, including hurricanes blow in
from the Gulf or Atlantic. The westerlies often push cold fronts
from the Arctic as areas of low pressure dominating the weather
for a few days at a time. Summers are hot and sticky as the
Bermuda High covers Alabama. This is a time when southerly winds
carry up moist air from the Gulf producing isolated showers and
thunderstorms as the sun-heated air rises.
other U.S. cities.
U.S. Rank Land
(total area Water Total
State area) (miles2) area (miles2) area
Alabama 30 50,744.00 1,675.01 52,419.02
Elevation Highest Elevation Lowest Elevation
State (ft.) point (ft.) point (ft.)
Alabama 500 Cheaha 2,405 Gulf of Sea level
The Fall Line is a geographic
feature which divides
Alabama into two distinct
physical regions, the uplands
and lowlands. It is considered
the most significant physical
feature in Alabama affecting
the distribution of plants and
animals. It represents the
zone of contact between the
hard rocks of the
Appalachians and the softer
sediments of the Coastal
plain. Many species are
limited to either above or
below the fall line.
• Also known as Tennessee Valley
• Topography – floodplain of old Tenn. River
(now dammed and flooding controlled), cliffs
• Soil – very rich soil, intensive agriculture
• Trees – Oak/Hickory, fewer pines
• Water – Tenn. River and Streams
• In Alabama as Sand Mountain.
• Topography – Deep narrow valleys carved into the
landscape by rivers and streams give the impression of
mountains, but the “hilltops”, all about the same level
represent the original plateau surface, caves common.
• Soils – sedimentary rock - limestone, shale, sandstone rich
with plant and animal fossils and coal seams.
• Trees - The plateau contains some of the largest stretches
of contiguous forest in the eastern United States. Oak and
hickory forest types with pines occurring on dry, upland
• Water – Impacted by mining
Ridge And Valley
• Topography – These mountains are
characterized by long, even ridges, with long,
continuous valleys in between.
• Soil – Limestone, sandstone, clay
• Trees – Oak, pine, hickory
• Water – clear, rocky river, springs common
• Piedmont - “foot of the mountain”
• Topography – hilly
• Soil – poor, clay and rocky
• Trees – Heavily forested, pines on hills,
hardwoods in the valleys.
• Water – Clear and rocky
East Gulf Coastal Plain
• Below the Fall Line.
• Topography – Flat to rolling hills
• Soil – Sandy to Sandy-loam and sandy-clays.
• Trees – Longleaf pine, turkey oak, palmetto.
(dependent on fire)
• Water – Tea-colored or black water swamps.
Alabama State Soil - Bama Series Soil Profile
• Surface layer: dark brown fine sandy
• Subsurface layer: pale brown fine sandy
• Subsoil: red clay loam and sandy clay
Bama soils are mainly in level to gently
sloping areas on high terraces paralleling
major river systems and on broad marine
terraces. These very deep, well-drained,
moderately permeable soils formed in thick
deposits of loamy fluvial or marine
The average annual precipitation is 56 to 64
inches. The average annual air temperature is
60 to 65 degrees F. These soils make up more
than 360,000 acres, mainly in the western
and central parts of Alabama. They occur in
These soils are well suited to cultivated crops,
pasture, hay, woodland, and most urban uses.
Cotton and corn are the main cultivated
crops. Some areas are used as woodland.
The Bama soil series was designated the
official state soil of Alabama by the State
Legislature on April 22, 1997.
Alabama River Basins
Rivers of Alabama
• For information on each of Alabama’s Rivers
Alabama Natural Resources
Alabama Quick Facts
•Although it produces substantial amounts of coal,
Alabama relies on deliveries from other States to
meet roughly half of State demand.
•Alabama produces natural gas largely from wells
offshore in the Gulf of Mexico and from coal bed
methane deposits, found primarily in the Black
Warrior Basin and the Cahaba Coal Field.
•With numerous dams along the Alabama and Coosa
Rivers, Alabama is one of the largest hydroelectric
power-producing States east of the Rocky Mountains.
•Alabama’s soil is well suited for growing switchgrass,
making the State a potential site for the installation of
•Alabama is a top producer of energy from wood
resources and contains one of the world’s largest
solid biofuel plants, designed to produce 520,000
metric tons of wood pellets each year.
Alabama Natural Resources
Resources and Consumption
Alabama is rich in energy resources. The State has considerable conventional and unconventional natural
gas reserves, substantial deposits of coal, and numerous rivers capable of hydroelectric generation. Several
regions of Alabama are well suited for growing switchgrass, making the State a potential site for the
installation of bioenergy plants. With a strong manufacturing base in paper products, chemicals, and textiles,
Alabama’s industrial sector leads State energy consumption, accounting for nearly one-half of total energy
Alabama produces a small amount of crude oil from reserves located in the Black Warrior Basin in the north
and the Gulf Coast in the south. Although production has been in decline since the early 1990s, new onshore
drilling activity has occurred in recent years. To increase production from aging fields, producers have
repaired old wells and applied new technology. One petroleum refinery is located near the Port of Mobile, a
second is located in Tuscaloosa on the Black Warrior River, and a third is located in Atmore in the southern
part of the State. Petroleum products made at Alabama’s refineries are delivered to local and regional
markets and shipped via pipeline to States in the Northeast. Alabama markets receive additional finished
petroleum products from Texas and Louisiana through the Colonial and Plantation pipelines. Per capita
petroleum consumption in Alabama is about average compared to other States.
Alabama’s annual natural gas production accounts for more than 1 percent of total U.S. output. More than
one-half of this production typically comes from onshore wells, and about two-fifths come from coal bed
methane deposits (unconventional natural gas found trapped within coal seams) in the Black Warrior Basin
and the Cahaba Coal Field. As with oil production, Alabama’s natural gas production is in decline and does
not satisfy State demand, about four-fifths of which is from industrial users and electric power generators.
Consequently, Alabama purchases additional supplies of natural gas transported by pipeline mainly from the
Gulf of Mexico, Louisiana, and Texas. The Southeast Supply Header pipeline, transporting natural gas from
the Perryville Hub in Texas to southern Alabama, came on-line in September 2008. This pipeline has a
capacity of 1 billion cubic feet per day and is intended to give Alabama consumers an alternative to offshore
supply, which may be vulnerable to weather-related disruptions.
Alabama Natural Resources
Coal, Electricity, and Renewables
Alabama ranks among the top 10 States in electricity generation. Coal is the dominant fuel for
electric power generation, typically accounting for more than one-half of the electricity
produced within the State. Alabama produces large amounts of coal in the northern part of the
State. Industrial plants and coke plants consume a larger share of the State’s output than in
most other States. Additional coal, largely used for electricity generation, is shipped in from
other States, primarily Wyoming, Kentucky, and West Virginia. Alabama is a major nuclear
power generator; its two nuclear power plants produce about one-fourth of the electricity
generated in the State. The State’s nuclear power capacity expanded in mid-2007 when the
Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) restarted a nuclear reactor at its Browns Ferry plant that had
been idle since 1985. With more than two dozen hydroelectric dams, located mainly along the
Alabama and Coosa Rivers, Alabama is one of the top producers of hydroelectric power east of
the Rocky Mountains. Hydroelectric power typically supplies at least 5 percent of State
electricity generation. Alabama ranks among the top States in net summer capacity for
generation from wood and wood waste. The State also contains one of the world’s largest solid
biofuel plants, designed to produce 520,000 metric tons of wood pellets each year, the majority
of which is shipped to Europe.
Due to high demand from the industrial and residential sectors, Alabama’s total electricity
consumption is high when compared to other States. Alabama’s per capita consumption of
residential electricity is one of the highest in the country due to high air-conditioning demand
during the hot summer months and the widespread use of electricity for home heating during
the generally mild winter months. However, despite high total and per capita electricity demand,
Alabama electricity production exceeds consumption and the State exports large amounts of
electricity to neighboring States via several high-voltage interstate transmission lines.
Such a diverse landscape gives rise to very high AL biodiversity.
• Open and Disturbed Areas • Freshwater Wetlands
– Grasslands – Cypress-dominated wetlands
– Power- and gas-line easements – Wet prairies and savannas
– Roadsides – Freshwater marshes
– Managed fields and crops – Bottomland forests
• Rocky Habitats – Gum ponds and bay swamps
– Caves • Coasts
– Rocky outcrops – Dunes and beaches
• Southern Piedmont and Highland Forests – Maritime forests
– Southern piedmont forests – Barrier islands
– Highland forests – Tidal mudflats
• Pine Forests and Cedar Glades – Salt marshes
– Pine Flatwoods • Oceans and Bays
– Longleaf pine upland forest – Gulf of Mexico
– Loblolly-shortleaf pine upland forests – Saltwater bays
– Cedar glades – Estuaries
• Open Inland Water and Waterways – Sea-grass beds
– Alluvial rivers
– Mountain rivers
– Ponds and spring runs