Constraints on Lake Agassiz discharge through the late-glacial Champlain Sea (St. Lawrence Lowlands, Canada) using salinity proxies and an estuarine circulation model

Brandon Katz, Raymond Gabriel Najjar, Jr., Thomas Cronin, John Rayburn, Michael Mann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

8 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

During the last deglaciation, abrupt freshwater discharge events from proglacial lakes in North America, such as glacial Lake Agassiz, are believed to have drained into the North Atlantic Ocean, causing large shifts in climate by weakening the formation of North Atlantic Deep Water and decreasing ocean heat transport to high northern latitudes. These discharges were caused by changes in lake drainage outlets, but the duration, magnitude and routing of discharge events, factors which govern the climatic response to freshwater forcing, are poorly known. Abrupt discharges, called floods, are typically assumed to last months to a year, whereas more gradual discharges, called routing events, occur over centuries. Here we use estuarine modeling to evaluate freshwater discharge from Lake Agassiz and other North American proglacial lakes into the North Atlantic Ocean through the St. Lawrence estuary around 11.5 ka BP, the onset of the Preboreal oscillation (PBO). Faunal and isotopic proxy data from the Champlain Sea, a semi-isolated, marine-brackish water body that occupied the St. Lawrence and Champlain Valleys from 13 to 9 ka, indicate salinity fell about 7-8 (range of 4-11) around 11.5 ka. Model results suggest that minimum (1600 km3) and maximum (9500 km3) estimates of plausible flood volumes determined from Lake Agassiz paleoshorelines would produce the proxy-reconstructed salinity decrease if the floods lasted <1 day to 5 months and 1 month to 2 years, respectively. In addition, Champlain Sea salinity responds very quickly to the initiation (within days) and cessation (within weeks) of flooding events. These results support the hypothesis that a glacial lake flood, rather than a sustained routing event, discharged through the St. Lawrence Estuary during the PBO.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3248-3257
Number of pages10
JournalQuaternary Science Reviews
Volume30
Issue number23-24
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 1 2011

Fingerprint

late glacial
lowlands
Canada
salinity
natural disaster
lakes
event
lake
routing
Preboreal
Atlantic Ocean
water
Glacial Lake Agassiz
oscillation
estuary
estuaries
last deglaciation
North Atlantic Deep Water
glacial lake
heat

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Archaeology
  • Archaeology
  • Geology

Cite this

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title = "Constraints on Lake Agassiz discharge through the late-glacial Champlain Sea (St. Lawrence Lowlands, Canada) using salinity proxies and an estuarine circulation model",
abstract = "During the last deglaciation, abrupt freshwater discharge events from proglacial lakes in North America, such as glacial Lake Agassiz, are believed to have drained into the North Atlantic Ocean, causing large shifts in climate by weakening the formation of North Atlantic Deep Water and decreasing ocean heat transport to high northern latitudes. These discharges were caused by changes in lake drainage outlets, but the duration, magnitude and routing of discharge events, factors which govern the climatic response to freshwater forcing, are poorly known. Abrupt discharges, called floods, are typically assumed to last months to a year, whereas more gradual discharges, called routing events, occur over centuries. Here we use estuarine modeling to evaluate freshwater discharge from Lake Agassiz and other North American proglacial lakes into the North Atlantic Ocean through the St. Lawrence estuary around 11.5 ka BP, the onset of the Preboreal oscillation (PBO). Faunal and isotopic proxy data from the Champlain Sea, a semi-isolated, marine-brackish water body that occupied the St. Lawrence and Champlain Valleys from 13 to 9 ka, indicate salinity fell about 7-8 (range of 4-11) around 11.5 ka. Model results suggest that minimum (1600 km3) and maximum (9500 km3) estimates of plausible flood volumes determined from Lake Agassiz paleoshorelines would produce the proxy-reconstructed salinity decrease if the floods lasted <1 day to 5 months and 1 month to 2 years, respectively. In addition, Champlain Sea salinity responds very quickly to the initiation (within days) and cessation (within weeks) of flooding events. These results support the hypothesis that a glacial lake flood, rather than a sustained routing event, discharged through the St. Lawrence Estuary during the PBO.",
author = "Brandon Katz and {Najjar, Jr.}, {Raymond Gabriel} and Thomas Cronin and John Rayburn and Michael Mann",
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T1 - Constraints on Lake Agassiz discharge through the late-glacial Champlain Sea (St. Lawrence Lowlands, Canada) using salinity proxies and an estuarine circulation model

AU - Katz, Brandon

AU - Najjar, Jr., Raymond Gabriel

AU - Cronin, Thomas

AU - Rayburn, John

AU - Mann, Michael

PY - 2011/11/1

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N2 - During the last deglaciation, abrupt freshwater discharge events from proglacial lakes in North America, such as glacial Lake Agassiz, are believed to have drained into the North Atlantic Ocean, causing large shifts in climate by weakening the formation of North Atlantic Deep Water and decreasing ocean heat transport to high northern latitudes. These discharges were caused by changes in lake drainage outlets, but the duration, magnitude and routing of discharge events, factors which govern the climatic response to freshwater forcing, are poorly known. Abrupt discharges, called floods, are typically assumed to last months to a year, whereas more gradual discharges, called routing events, occur over centuries. Here we use estuarine modeling to evaluate freshwater discharge from Lake Agassiz and other North American proglacial lakes into the North Atlantic Ocean through the St. Lawrence estuary around 11.5 ka BP, the onset of the Preboreal oscillation (PBO). Faunal and isotopic proxy data from the Champlain Sea, a semi-isolated, marine-brackish water body that occupied the St. Lawrence and Champlain Valleys from 13 to 9 ka, indicate salinity fell about 7-8 (range of 4-11) around 11.5 ka. Model results suggest that minimum (1600 km3) and maximum (9500 km3) estimates of plausible flood volumes determined from Lake Agassiz paleoshorelines would produce the proxy-reconstructed salinity decrease if the floods lasted <1 day to 5 months and 1 month to 2 years, respectively. In addition, Champlain Sea salinity responds very quickly to the initiation (within days) and cessation (within weeks) of flooding events. These results support the hypothesis that a glacial lake flood, rather than a sustained routing event, discharged through the St. Lawrence Estuary during the PBO.

AB - During the last deglaciation, abrupt freshwater discharge events from proglacial lakes in North America, such as glacial Lake Agassiz, are believed to have drained into the North Atlantic Ocean, causing large shifts in climate by weakening the formation of North Atlantic Deep Water and decreasing ocean heat transport to high northern latitudes. These discharges were caused by changes in lake drainage outlets, but the duration, magnitude and routing of discharge events, factors which govern the climatic response to freshwater forcing, are poorly known. Abrupt discharges, called floods, are typically assumed to last months to a year, whereas more gradual discharges, called routing events, occur over centuries. Here we use estuarine modeling to evaluate freshwater discharge from Lake Agassiz and other North American proglacial lakes into the North Atlantic Ocean through the St. Lawrence estuary around 11.5 ka BP, the onset of the Preboreal oscillation (PBO). Faunal and isotopic proxy data from the Champlain Sea, a semi-isolated, marine-brackish water body that occupied the St. Lawrence and Champlain Valleys from 13 to 9 ka, indicate salinity fell about 7-8 (range of 4-11) around 11.5 ka. Model results suggest that minimum (1600 km3) and maximum (9500 km3) estimates of plausible flood volumes determined from Lake Agassiz paleoshorelines would produce the proxy-reconstructed salinity decrease if the floods lasted <1 day to 5 months and 1 month to 2 years, respectively. In addition, Champlain Sea salinity responds very quickly to the initiation (within days) and cessation (within weeks) of flooding events. These results support the hypothesis that a glacial lake flood, rather than a sustained routing event, discharged through the St. Lawrence Estuary during the PBO.

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