The English Channel is a water body located off the coast of Europe connecting the Atlantic Ocean to the North Sea through the Strait of Dover. The channel separates northern France on the European mainland from southern England on the island of Great Britain. The English Channel also goes by the names MOR Breizh, the Sleeve, the Sea of Brittany, MOR Bretannek, or simply the Channel.
Formation of the Channel
The island of Great Britain was formally part of continental Europe which was linked by the Weald-Artois Anticline. However, two catastrophic floods resulted in the destruction of the anticline that connected Britain to continental Europe with only a small piece of land remaining. This land connection was severed during the last glacial period.
Understanding the English Channel
The English Channel is roughly 350 miles long. It stretches from 20.7 miles to around 150 miles in width. The English Channel’s widest portion is between Lyme Bay and Gulf of Saint Malo near the channel’s midpoint. The channel is approximately 50 meters deep with less depth between straits of Calais and Dover. The English Channel is the shallowest of all the Europeans continental shelf.
The strongest tides found in the English Channel are in the Strait of Dover. Temperatures range from 45 degrees Fahrenheit in February to 61 degrees Fahrenheit in September. The weather above the English Channel varies from chilly, cloudy, and wet between October and April to fair and dry weather during the rest of the year.
The waters of the English Channel are inhabited by fish such as cod, whiting, herring, pilchard, hake, and mullet. Islands around the English Channel include Saint Anne, Saint Peter Port, Saint Helier, Saint Herm, and Sark. The French refer to the English Channel as the La Manche.
Economic Significance of the English Channel
The English Channel Tunnel is one of the busiest seaways globally. It possesses a 31-miles long rail tunnel connecting England to France which makes it the fourth-longest rail tunnel. It takes roughly 35 minutes to travel from England to France using the rail tunnel. Over 50,000 people use the tunnel daily. Moreover, 500 ships operate along the English Channel every day making the area a busy shipping region with the main ports including Folkestone and Dover in England as well as Boulogne and Calais in France.
The favorable climate, sandy beaches and the various attractive coasts on both France and England sides of the English Channel have led to the growth of the tourism industry. Tourists started visiting the channel in the 18th-century due to its magnificent resorts.
The ports of Le Havre and Southampton facilitate oil-refining leading to commercial growth of these areas. Furthermore, both France and England use the channel’s water for their nuclear-powered cooling generation stations. Additionally, the Brittany’s Rance Tidal Power Station is responsible for tidal-power generation by using the tides which go as high as over 35 feet.