Carolina Environmental Diversity Explorations
Cape Fear estuaries · By Steve Keith
Cape Fear estuaries: From river to sea
This Carolina Environmental Diversity Explorations “virtual field trip” follows the Cape Fear River from just north of Wilmington to its mouth at Bald Head Island. In this part of the Cape Fear, its estuary, salt and fresh water mix in varying proportions. A balance of river flow and tidal forces shape and define an estuary. This field trip provides high-resolution photographs at various points on the estuary with discussions of the physical, chemical, biological, and political forces that shape it.
This portion of the Cape Fear River is located in North Carolina's outer coastal plain province in New Hanover and Brunswick Counties.
What are Carolina Environmental Diversity Explorations?
Carolina Environmental Diversity Explorations are virtual field trips to areas characterized by both beautiful scenery and useful lessons about North Carolina's environment. Our state stretches from the Appalachian mountains to the sea. Along the way you can find rocks formed when the earth was only half as old as it is now, climate zones equivalent to those found near sea level from Georgia to Canada, and plants and animals as diverse as those of any state except California.
Each trip explores an important feature of North Carolina's natural heritage. First, a question is posed — What is a wetland? How do hurricanes damage coastal infrastructure? Why is the Blue Ridge so biologically diverse? The question is then answered by exploring a particular location or locations — its natural history, geology, weather, and ecology, and how all of these factors interact to make the location unique. The field trips also examine how humans impact and are in turn impacted by these natural areas. With high-resolution photographs, narrative text, and glossaries, these virtual field trips offer an experience that's the next best thing to exploring our state on foot with a scientist at your side!
Carolina Environmental Diversity Explorations were originally developed in 1999 through a partnership of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Department of Marine Sciences and LEARN NC. This edition was published in 2005–2006. (Full credits)
The field trips
The field trips are organized by province (see the map, above).
Outer Coastal Plain Province
- The White Oak River: A Blackwater River from Sea to Source
- Cape Fear Estuaries: From River to Sea
- Hurricanes on Sandy Shorelines: Lessons for Development
- Small Sand Volume Barrier Islands: Environmental Processes and Development Risks
- Large Sand Volume Barrier Islands: Environmental Processes and Development Risks
- Coastal Processes and Human Impacts on the Northern Outer Banks
- Evidence of Sea Level Rise: Coastal Erosion and Plant Community Changes
Inner Coastal Plain Province
- Lonely Mountains: The Monadnocks of the Inner Piedmont
- Clays of the Piedmont: Origins, Recovery, and Use