Lake Agassiz was ponded on the northward-sloping surface of the Hudson Bay and Arctic Ocean basins, as the Laurentide Ice Sheet retreated. The level of Lake Agassiz abruptly fell ~12.9cal (1114C) ka BP, exposing the lake floor over a large region for >1000yr. The routing of overflow during this (Moorhead low-water) period is uncertain, and there is evidence on the continent and in ocean basins for both an easterly route through the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence to the North Atlantic and for a northwesterly route through the Clearwater-Athabasca-Mackenzie system to the Arctic Ocean. The Moorhead low water phase coincides with the Younger Dryas cooling, and a cause-effect relationship has been proposed by attributing a change in ocean thermohaline circulation to the re-routing of Lake Agassiz freshwaters from the Gulf of Mexico to more northern oceans. Paleoclimatic interpretations from ecosystems in lake sediments in the region, and a simple calculation of the paleohydrological budget of Lake Agassiz, indicate that the climate remained wet and cool throughout the YD in this region, and was not warm nor dry enough to allow evaporative loss to offset the influx of meltwater and precipitation; thus, the Moorhead phase resulted from changes in the outlet that carried overflow.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
My thanks to the National Science and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) of Canada for financial support. Thanks to Derek Booth and three journal reviews for their helpful suggestions.
Copyright 2013 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.
- Lake Agassiz
- Younger Dryas