Geography of Cumberland County, New Jersey

By | March 5, 2024

Geography of Cumberland County, New Jersey

Cumberland County, nestled in the southwestern part of New Jersey, boasts a diverse geography shaped by its location along the Delaware Bay and the convergence of various rivers. This comprehensive overview will delve into the topography, climate, rivers, lakes, and other geographical elements that contribute to the unique character of Cumberland County.

Topography:

According to Smber, Cumberland County’s topography is primarily characterized by low-lying coastal plains, marshlands, and river valleys. The county is situated within the Atlantic Coastal Plain, a region extending from New Jersey to Florida known for its relatively flat terrain. Elevations in Cumberland County range from sea level along the Delaware Bay to slightly higher elevations further inland.

The coastal plains are interspersed with wetlands, including portions of the extensive salt marshes along the Delaware Bay. These wetlands play a crucial role in supporting diverse ecosystems and protecting against coastal erosion. Additionally, there are areas of upland terrain, particularly in the northern and central parts of the county, contributing to the overall variety in topography.

Climate:

Cumberland County experiences a humid subtropical climate, influenced by its proximity to the Atlantic Ocean and the Delaware Bay. The climate is characterized by four distinct seasons, with relatively mild winters and hot, humid summers.

Summers in Cumberland County typically see daytime temperatures ranging from the 70s to the 90s°F (21 to 32°C), while winters are characterized by daytime highs in the 30s and 40s°F (1 to 9°C). Precipitation is evenly distributed throughout the year, with occasional winter snowfall. The proximity to water bodies helps moderate temperature extremes and contributes to the region’s overall climate.

Rivers and Lakes:

Cumberland County is defined by its waterways, with the Delaware Bay bordering the western edge of the county. The bay, an estuary where the Delaware River meets the Atlantic Ocean, influences the county’s climate and provides a habitat for various marine species.

The Maurice River, one of the primary rivers in the county, flows through the central part, draining into the Delaware Bay. The Cohansey River, another significant watercourse, also contributes to the county’s hydrology.

While natural lakes are not prevalent in Cumberland County, there are reservoirs and impoundments created for water supply, recreation, and environmental management. These water bodies contribute to the overall water infrastructure of the region.

Vegetation and Wildlife:

Cumberland County’s vegetation is influenced by its coastal and wetland environments. The salt marshes along the Delaware Bay support a unique assemblage of salt-tolerant plants, including cordgrass and saltmeadow cordgrass. These wetlands provide critical habitats for various bird species and serve as nurseries for fish and invertebrates.

Inland areas feature a mix of deciduous and evergreen forests, with species like oak, maple, pine, and cedar. The diversity in habitats, including uplands, wetlands, and coastal areas, supports a wide range of wildlife.

The Maurice River and Cohansey River corridors, in particular, are vital for migratory bird species, including waterfowl and shorebirds. The region is part of the Atlantic Flyway, a major migratory route for birds traveling between breeding and wintering grounds.

Geological Features:

Cumberland County’s geological features are shaped by its coastal location and the dynamic interactions between land and water. The Atlantic Coastal Plain, characterized by sedimentary deposits, influences the county’s relatively flat topography. The soils are often sandy or loamy, contributing to the agricultural productivity of the region.

The coastal plain is underlain by aquifers, providing a source of groundwater for the county’s residents and agriculture. The aquifers play a crucial role in supporting both human activities and maintaining the ecological balance of wetland habitats.

The county’s coastline is subject to processes of erosion and accretion, with barrier islands and sand dunes acting as natural buffers against coastal storms and wave action.

Human Impact and Activities:

Human activities in Cumberland County are closely tied to its geographical features, with a focus on agriculture, fisheries, and coastal activities. The rich soils of the coastal plain support a variety of crops, including vegetables, fruits, and grains. The county is known for its agricultural output, contributing to the regional economy and providing fresh produce to local markets.

The Maurice River and the Delaware Bay support commercial and recreational fisheries, including shellfish harvesting. Oysters, clams, and crabs are important catches, reflecting the economic and cultural significance of maritime activities in the region.

The county’s proximity to urban centers, including Philadelphia, has led to residential development, especially in the northern and central areas. The city of Bridgeton, the county seat, serves as a cultural and economic hub.

Cultural and Historical Sites:

Cumberland County boasts a rich cultural and historical heritage, with sites that reflect its maritime, agricultural, and industrial past. The city of Bridgeton is home to the Cohanzick Zoo, one of the oldest zoos in the country, and the Cumberland County Historical Society, preserving artifacts and documents related to the region’s history.

The Delaware Bayshore, including communities like Greenwich and Fortescue, showcases the county’s maritime traditions. Historic lighthouses, such as the East Point Lighthouse, stand as beacons along the coastline.

The town of Maurice River is known for its Victorian architecture and the Mauricetown Historical Society, which provides insights into the region’s shipbuilding and maritime history.

Conclusion:

Cumberland County, New Jersey, is a region where the interplay between land and water shapes its identity. From the coastal plains and salt marshes to the fertile uplands, the county’s geography influences its climate, ecosystems, and human activities. As Cumberland County continues to evolve, maintaining a balance between environmental conservation and sustainable development will be crucial for preserving its unique character and ensuring a vibrant future for its residents.