Climate Change and...
- Climate Variability
- Climate Models
Effects of Climate Change
Pluvial Lakes and Lake Sediments
Street-Perrott, F.A., Barker, P. A., Swain, D. L., Ficken, Katherine J., Wooller, Matthew J., Olago, Daniel O., Huang, Yongsong (2007). Late Quaternary changes in ecosystems and carbon cycling on Mt. Kenya, East Africa: a landscape-ecological perspective based on multi-proxy lake-sediment influxes. Quaternary Science Reviews 26 (13-14): 1838-1860
ABSTRACT: The degree to which different lakes within a landscape respond coherently (in unison) to external drivers such as climate change and soil development is uncertain. Presentation of multi-proxy, geochemical and palaeoecological data from individual lakes in the form of fluxes minimizes distortions resulting from variable sedimentation rates and changes in sediment composition. We use the accumulation rates of magnetic minerals, total organic C and N, terrestrial and aquatic biomarkers, graminoid epidermis, pollen, green algae, diatoms and diatom C in four small lakes, situated between 2350 and 4595 m a.s.l. on the NE flank of Mt. Kenya, East Africa, to reconstruct changes in C cycling over the last 38 ka. The results conflict with earlier models of landscape and lake development, showing: (1) that glacial–interglacial changes in vegetation cannot be interpreted as simple, altitudinal shifts in the modern vegetation belts; and (2) that limnological changes were not coherent. Rapid variations in climate, water level, erosion and nutrient input overwhelmed long-term, successional trends in lake sedimentation and C accumulation since the Last Glacial Maximum. The results also reveal previously unrecognized features of the palaeoenvironmental record, such as the rapid degradation of organic matter in diatoms and the occurrence of a productive, fire-prone montane grassland during the highly seasonal, monsoonal climate of the Lateglacial and early Holocene.
INTRODUCTION: Quaternary records of climate change from terrestrial sources, such as lake sediments and aeolian sediments, in general agree well with marine records. But continuous records that cover more than the past one million years were essentially unavailable until recently, when the high-sedimentation-rate site of Lake Baikal was exploited. Because of its location in the middle latitudes, Lake Baikal is highly sensitive to insolation changes and the entire lake remained uncovered by ice sheets throughout the Pleistocene epoch, making it a valuable archive for past climate. Here we examine long sediment cores from Lake Baikal that cover the past 12 million years. Our record reveals a gradual cooling of the Asian continental interior, with some fluctuations. Spectral analyses reveal periods of about 400 kyr, 600 kyr and 1,000 kyr, which may correspond to Milankovitch periods (reflecting orbital cycles). Our results indicate that changes in insolation were closely related to long-term environmental variations in the deep continental interior, over the past 12 million years.
Finney, B. P., I. Gregory-Eaves, J. Sweetman, M.S.V. Douglas, J.P. Smol (2000). Impacts of climatic change and fishing on Pacific salmon abundance over the past 300 years. Science 290 (27 October): 795-799
ABSTRACT: The effects of climate variability on Pacific salmon abundance are uncertain because historical records are short and are complicated by commercial harvesting and habitat alteration. We use lake sediment records ofd15 N and biological indicators to reconstruct sockeye salmon abundance in the Bristol Bay and Kodiak Island regions of Alaska over the past 300 years. Marked shifts in populations occurred over decades during this period, and some pronounced changes appear to be related to climatic change. Variations in salmon returns due to climate or harvesting can have strong impacts on sockeye nursery lake productivity in systems where adult salmon carcasses are important nutrient sources.
ABSTRACT: A 17 000 yr fire history from Yellowstone National Park demonstrates a strong link between changes in climate and variations in fire frequency on millennial time scales. The fire history reconstruction is based on a detailed charcoal stratigraphy from Cygnet Lake in the rhyolite plateau region. Macroscopic charcoal particles were tallied from contiguous 1 cm samples of a 6.69-m-long core, and the data were converted to charcoal-accumulation rates at evenly spaced time intervals. Intervals of high charcoal-accumulation rates were interpreted as local fire events on the basis of information obtained from modern charcoal-calibration studies in the Yellowstone region. The record indicates that fire frequency was moderate (4 fires/1000 yr) during the late glacial period, reached highest values in the early Holocene (>10 fires/1000 yr), and decreased after 7000 calendar yr B.P. The present fire regime (2–3 fires/1000 yr) was established in the past 2000 yr. The charcoal stratigraphy correlates well with variations in July insolation through time, which suggests that regional climate changes are responsible for the long-term variations in fire frequency. In the early Holocene, summer insolation was near its maximum, which resulted in warmer, effectively drier conditions throughout the northwestern United States. At this time, the fire frequency near Cygnet Lake was at its highest. After 7000 calendar yr B.P., summer insolation decreased to present values, the regional climate became cooler and wetter, and fires were less frequent. The Cygnet Lake record suggests that long-term fire frequencies have varied continuously with climate change, even when the vegetation has remained constant
ABSTRACT: It is commonly thought that the climate conditions that supported lakes over a period of years in the Mojave Desert in southern California, only existed before 8,000 yr BP and that the environment has been arid since1,2 . Here we look at a drill core in the Silver Lake playa at the terminus of the Mojave River and find Holocene lake deposits which indicate that shallow lakes existed for at least a few decades. These deposits were radiocarbon dated at 3620 ±70 and 390 ± 90 yr BP, corresponding to the early Neo-glacial and the 'little ice age' respectively3 . To identify the conditions necessary to produce these Holocene lake events we have examined the modern climate and hydrological patterns that produce ephemeral lakes in this usually arid watershed. Available data indicate that there is a link between anomalous winter atmospheric conditions over the North Pacific and Mojave River floods that produced ephemeral lakes in the Silver Lake playa and that the Mojave River filters out small to medium floods and allows only the extreme floods to reach the terminal playa and leave a record of the anomalous conditions. We suggest that the late Holocene lakes may have resulted from persistent similar atmospheric circulation patterns and winter floods.
ABSTRACT: While long recognized as important sources of information on sub-millenial-to millenial-scale changes in climate, hydrographically closed lakes have seldom been used to illuminate past climatic vicissitudes in the sub-century-to centuries time frame. Mono Lake, an artificially depressed, hydrographically closed water body that abuts the eastern escarpment of California's Sierra Nevada, is well-suited for this type of detailed, high-resolution paleoclimatic reconstruction. Streamcuts through the deltas of the main feeder streams reveal lake-transgressive and -regressive sedimentary sequences with intervening soils, as well as an abundance of datable materials and tephra layers. The expansiveness and clarity of these exposures make it possible to trace individual transgressive and regressive units landward from the lake for as much as 1000 m, enabling the elevations of past high stands and low stands to be defined with a high degree of precision. Twenty-five radiocarbon dates, many of them on the remains of vegetation killed during the lake transgressions, together with 4 tephra units of known age, provide chronometric control for the fluctuation curve.
The deltaic sequences, in combination with sedimentary, geomorphic, biotic, tephrostatigraphic, and historic evidence, indicate that during the past 3800 years Mono Lake has fluctuated over a vertical range of 40 m in response to changes in inflow and evaporation. Approximately 3770 cal B.P. the lake reached the Dechambeau Ranch High Stand at ~1980.8 m, a level that it had not occupied for perhaps 7000 years, and that it has not attained since. By ~1807 cal B.P. the lake had declined to an extreme low stand (the Marina Low Stand) at 1940.9 m. Over the ensuing six centuries it fluctuated little, remaining within an elevation interval (1945–1952 m) which is low by historic standards. The past 1200 years has been a period of rapid and large-scale fluctuations. During this interval Mono Lake has alternated between high stands (the Post Office, Rush Delta, Danberg Beach, Clover Ranch, and Historic high stands) of up to 1967.7 m, and low stabds (the Lee Vining Delta, Simis Ranch, Navy Beach, Rush Delta, and Pre-Historic low stands) as low as 1941 m.
The water balance model for the Mono Basin developed by Vorster (1985) was used to assess the changes in hydroclimatic conditions necessary to account for the reconstructed lake behavior. The model indicates that, on the sub-century to centuries time scale, effective inflow to the Mono groundwater basin over the past 3800 years has varied from greater than 134% to less than 68% of the modern (1937–1979) mean value. For the past 2 millennia the lake fluctuations seem to correspond in time to de Vries-type variations in solar activity.
L. V. Benson, D.R. Currey, R. I. Dorn, K. R. Lajoie, C.G. Oviatt, S. W. Robinson, G. I. Smith, S. Stine (1990). Chronology of expansion and contraction of four Great Basin lake systems during the past 35,000 years. Paleogeography, Paleoclimatology, Paleoecology 78 (3-4): 241-286
ABSTRACT: During the past 35,000 years, Lake Bonneville, Lake Russell, and Lake Searles underwent a major period of lake-level change. The lakes were at moderate levels or dry at the beginning of the period and seem to have achieved highstands between about 15,000 and 13,500 yr B.P. The rise of Lake Lahontan was gradual but not continuous, in part because of topographic constraints (intrabasin spill). Lake Lahontan also had an oscillation in lake level at 15,500 yr B.P. Radiocarbon-age estimations for materials that were deposited in the lake basins indicate that Lake Bonneville rose more or less gradually from 32,000 yr B.P., and had major oscillations in level between 23,000 and 21,000 yr B.P. and between 15,250 and 14,500 yr B.P. Lake Russell and Lake Searles had several major oscillations in lake level between 35,000 and 14,000 yr B.P. The timing and exact magnitude of the oscillations are difficult to decipher but both lakes may have achieved multiple highstand states. All four lakes may have had nearly synchronous recessions between about 14,000 and 13,500 yr B.P. After the recessions, the lakes seem to have temporarily stabilized or experienced a minor increase in size between about 11,500 and 10,000 yr B.P. These data provide circumstantial evidence that the Younger Dryas Event affected climate on at least a hemispheric scale. During the Holocene, the four lakes remained at low levels, and small oscillations in lake level occurred. An important aspect of the lake-level data is the accompanying expansion of lake-surface area at the time of the last highstand. Lake Bonneville and Lake Lahontan had surface areas about 10 times larger than their mean-historical reconstructed areas whereas Lake Russell and Lake Searles had surface areas about 5 times larger than their mean-historical reconstructed areas. Differences in the records of effective wetness may have been due to the locations of the basins relative to the position of the jetstream, or they may have resulted from lake/atmosphere feedback processes.
Benson, L.B., M. Kashgarian, R. Rye, S. Lund, F. Paillet, J. Smoot, C. Kester, S. Mensing, D. Meko, S. Lindström (2002). Holocene multidecadal and multicentennial droughts affecting northern California and Nevada. Quaternary Science Reviews 21 (4-6): 659-682
ABSTRACT: Continuous, high-resolutiond18 O records from cored sediments of Pyramid Lake, Nevada, indicate that oscillations in the hydrologic balance occurred, on average, about every 150 years (yr) during the past 7630 calendar years (cal yr). The records are not stationary; during the past 2740 yr, drought durations ranged from 20 to 100 yr and intervals between droughts ranged from 80 to 230 yr. Comparison of tree-ring-based reconstructions of climate change for the past 1200 yr from the Sierra Nevada and the El Malpais region of northwest New Mexico indicates that severe droughts associated with Anasazi withdrawal from Chaco Canyon at 820 cal yr BP (calendar years before present) and final abandonment of Chaco Canyon, Mesa Verde, and the Kayenta area at 650 cal yr BP may have impacted much of the western United States. During the middle Holocene (informally defined in this paper as extending from 8000 to 3000 cal yr BP), magnetic susceptibility values of sediments deposited in Pyramid Lake's deep basin were much larger than late–Holocene (3000–0 cal yr BP) values, indicating the presence of a shallow lake. In addition, the meand18 O value of CaCO3 precipitated between 6500 and 3430 cal yr BP was 1.6‰ less than the mean value of CaCO3 precipitated after 2740 cal yr BP. Numerical calculations indicate that the shift in thed18 O baseline probably resulted from a transition to a wetter (>30%) and cooler (3–5°C) climate. The existence of a relatively dry and warm middle-Holocene climate in the Truckee River–Pyramid Lake system is generally consistent with archeological, sedimentological, chemical, physical, and biological records from various sites within the Great Basin of the western United States. Two high-resolution Holocene-climate records are now available from the Pyramid and Owens lake basins which suggest that the Holocene was characterized by five climatic intervals. TIC andd18 O records from Owens Lake indicate that the first interval in the early Holocene (11,600–10,000 cal yr BP) was characterized by a drying trend that was interrupted by a brief (200 yr) wet oscillation centered at 10,300 cal yr BP. This was followed by a second early-Holocene interval (10,000–8000 cal yr BP) during which relatively wet conditions prevailed. During the early part of the middle Holocene (8000–6500 cal yr BP), high-amplitude oscillations in TIC in Owens Lake andd18 O in Pyramid Lake indicate the presence of shallow lakes in both basins. During the latter part of the middle Holocene (6500–3800 cal yr BP), drought conditions dominated, Owens Lake desiccated, and Lake Tahoe ceased spilling to the Truckee River, causing Pyramid Lake to decline. At the beginning of the late Holocene (~3000 cal yr BP), Lake Tahoe rose to its sill level and Pyramid Lake increased in volume.
Menounos, B., Clague, J.J., Gilbert, R., Slaymaker, O. (2005). Environmental reconstruction from a varve network in the southern Coast Mountains, British Columbia, Canada. The Holocene 15 (8): 1163-1171
ABSTRACT: Cores of annually laminated sediments (varves) from five lakes in the southern Coast Mountains of British Columbia, Canada, document clastic sediment response to climate and geomorphic change over the past 120 years. Interannual varve thickness correlates with annual flood magnitude. Interdecadal trends in varve thickness are influenced by other environmental factors such as glacier recession. Despite major differences in the lakes and their contributing watersheds, substantial concordance is observed among the records. A pronounced change in the nature of lake sedimentation, accompanied by higher interannual variability, occurred in 1980. The change coincides with an increase in the magnitude of autumn flooding and major re-organization of the North Pacific climate system. These results highlight new directions for palaeoenvironmental research using varved sediment records, specifically to study the magnitude and spatial extent of past hydro-climatic events.
ABSTRACT: Pollen and algae microfossils preserved in sediments from Pyramid Lake, Nevada, provide evidence for periods of persistent drought during the Holocene age. We analyzed one hundred nineteen 1-cm-thick samples for pollen and algae from a set of cores that span the past 7630 years. The early middle Holocene, 7600 to 6300 cal yr B.P., was found to be the driest period, although it included one short but intense wet phase. We suggest that Lake Tahoe was below its rim for most of this period, greatly reducing the volume and depth of Pyramid Lake. Middle Holocene aridity eased between 5000 and 3500 cal yr B.P. and climate became variable with distinct wet and dry phases. Lake Tahoe probably spilled intermittently during this time. No core was recovered that represented the period between 3500 and 2600 cal yr B.P. The past 2500 years appear to have had recurrent persistent droughts. The timing and magnitude of droughts identified in the pollen record compares favorably with previously published18 O data from Pyramid Lake. The timing of these droughts also agrees with the ages of submerged rooted stumps in the Eastern Sierra Nevada and woodrat midden data from central Nevada. Prolonged drought episodes appear to correspond with the timing of ice drift minima (solar maxima) identified from North Atlantic marine sediments, suggesting that changes in solar irradiance may be a possible mechanism influencing century-scale drought in the western Great Basin.
ABSTRACT: Stratigraphic, sedimentologic, and pedologic studies of beach ridge and lacustrine deposits indicate that up to five times during the Holocene, shallow lakes covered Silver Lake playa in southeastern California for periods of years to decades. The two youngest lacustrine events (at about 390 ± 90 yr B. P. and 3620 ± 70 yr B. P.) coincide with the early and late Neoglacial episodes of North America. Increasing evidence in recent years from other nonglaciated areas leads us to conclude that the effects of these climatic episodes were much more widespread than previously thought. The climate during these episodes was characterized by an increased frequency of winter storms in the southwestern United States, causing wetter conditions that affected diverse, hyperarid environments in the Mojave Desert and adjacent regions. We propose that this wide areal coverage was caused by large-scale, winter atmospheric circulation patterns, which are probably related to changes in sea-surface temperatures and oceanic circulation in the eastern North Pacific Ocean.
ABSTRACT: New dating in the Carson Sink at the termini of the Humboldt and Carson rivers in the Great Basin of the western United States indicates that lakes reached elevations of 1204 and 1198 m between 915 and 652 and between 1519 and 1308 cal yr B.P., respectively. These dates confirm Morrison's original interpretation (Lake Lahontan: Geology of the Southern Carson Desert, Professional Paper 40, U.S. Geol. Survey, 1964) that these shorelines are late Holocene features, rather than late Pleistocene as interpreted by later researchers. Paleohydrologic modeling suggests that discharge into the Carson Sink must have been increased by a factor of about four, and maintained for decades, to account for the 1204-m lake stand. The hydrologic effects of diversions of the Walker River to the Carson Sink were probably not sufficient, by themselves, to account for the late Holocene lake-level rises. The decadal-long period of increased runoff represented by the 1204-m lake is also reflected in other lake records and in tree ring records from the western United States.
ABSTRACT: Palynological data from sediment cores from the Ruby Marshes provide a record of environmental and climatic changes over the last 40,000 yr. The modern marsh waters are fresh, but no deeper than ~3 m. A shallow saline lake occupied this basin during the middle Wisconsin, followed by fresh and perhaps deep waters by 18,000 to 15,000 yr B.P. No sediments were recovered for the period between 15,000 and 11,000 yr B.P., possibly due to lake desiccation. By 10,800 yr B.P. a fresh-water lake was again present, and deeper-than-modern conditions lasted until 6800 yr B.P. The middle Holocene was characterized by very shallow water, and perhaps complete desiccation. The marsh system deepened after 4700 yr B.P., and fresh-water conditions persisted until modern times. Vegetation changes in Ruby Valley were more gradual than those seen in the paleolimnological record. Sagebrush steppe was more widespread than at present through the late Pleistocene and early Holocene, giving way somewhat to expanded shadscale vegetation between 8500 and 6800 yr B.P. Shadscale steppe contracted by 4000 yr B.P., but had greater than modern coverage until 1000 to 500 yr ago. Pinyon-juniper woodland was established in the southern Ruby Mountains by 4700 yr B.P.
ABSTRACT: Chronological correlations established at different time scales among the lake-level fluctuations in the Jura and French Subalpine ranges, glacier movements in the Swiss and Austrian Alps, and the atmospheric14 C record during the last 7 millennia show coincidences between lake-level rises, glacier advances, and high14 C production and vice versa. These correspondences suggest that the short-term14 C variations may be an empirical indicator of Holocene palaeoclimates and argue for possible origins of Holocene climatic oscillations: (1) The varying solar activity refers to secular climatic oscillations and to major climatic deteriorations showing a ca. 2300-yr periodicity. (2) A question is raised about a relationship between the earth's magnetic field and climate. First, the weak-strength periods of the earth's dipole magnetic field (between 3800 and ca. 2500 B.C.) coincide with higher climate variability, and vice versa. Second, the ca. 2300-yr periods revealed by the14 C record and also by the major climatic deteriorations re. corded in Jurassian lakes (ca. 1500 A.D., ca. 800 B.C., and ca. 3500 B.C.) coincide with the ca. 2300-yr periods revealed by the earth's nondipole geomagnetic field. The present warming induced by anthropogenic factors should be intensified during the next few centuries by natural factors of climate evolution.
Enzel, Y., S. G. Wells (1997). Extracting Holocene paleohydrology and paleoclimatology information from modern extreme flood events: An example from southern California. Geomorphology 19 (3-4): 203-226
ABSTRACT: The extraction of paleohydrological and paleoclimatological information from a modern hydrological system, shown to represent unique and extreme hydroclimatological conditions, is illustrated by an example from the Mojave River drainage basin in southern California. The Mojave River allows only the most extreme floods to reach its terminal basin in the Silver Lake playa and to form ephemeral lakes. All the other floods are lost by transmission into the alluvial aquifer along its 200 km channel. This filtering out of regular floods by the river provides an essential tool in establishing a physical link between atmospheric and hydrologic conditions. We demonstrate such a link between anomalous, present-day atmospheric circulation patterns over the North Pacific Ocean, extreme storms in southern California that produced the heaviest precipitation on record, the largest floods of record in the Mojave River watershed, and ephemeral lakes in its terminal playa. This physical link determines the possible cause of the formations of perennial, short-duration, shallow lakes in Silver Lake playa during the late Holocene and characterizes the hydroclimatic conditions that prevailed during these lacustrine episodes. Hydrological simulations of this river and its filtering character demonstrate that these lakes could have formed only if the most extreme modern storms and floods were more frequent in at least an order of magnitude during specific time episodes. We conclude that such extreme hydroclimatic conditions occurred more frequent in past episodes during which the Holocene lakes formed. In turn, this conclusion indicates that the cause of these storms and floods, i.e. the anomalous atmospheric circulation pattern, must have been more frequent. This research outlines a way to extract information on Holocene climates in hydrologic settings that demonstrate a unique cause and effect relationship.
ABSTRACT: The environmental history of the Northern Rocky Mountains was reconstructed using lake sediments from Burnt Knob Lake, Idaho, and comparing the results with those from other previously published sites in the region to understand how vegetation and fire regimes responded to large-scale climate changes during the Holocene. Vegetation reconstructions indicate parkland or alpine meadow at the end of the glacial period indicating cold-dry conditions. From 14,000 to 12,000 cal yr B.P., abundant Pinus pollen suggests warmer, moister conditions than the previous period. Most sites record the development of a forest with Pseudotsuga ca. 9500 cal yr B.P. indicating warm dry climate coincident with the summer insolation maximum. As the amplification of the seasonal cycle of insolation waned during the middle Holocene, Pseudotsuga was replaced by Pinus and Abies suggesting cool, moist conditions. The fire reconstructions show less synchroneity. In general, the sites west of the continental divide display a fire-frequency maximum around 12,000–8000 cal yr B.P., which coincides with the interval of high summer insolation and stronger-than-present subtropical high. The sites on the east side of the continental divide have the highest fire frequency ca. 6000–3500 cal yr B.P. and may be responding to a decrease in summer precipitation as monsoonal circulation weakened in the middle and late Holocene. This study demonstrated that the fire frequency of the last two decades does not exceed the historical range of variability in that periods of even higher-than-present fire frequency occurred in the past.
D.R. Currey (1990). Quaternary palaeolakes in the evolution of semidesert basins, with special emphasis on Lake Bonneville and the Great Basin, U.S.A.. Paleogeography, Paleoclimatology, Palaeoecology 76 (3-4): 189-214
ABSTRACT: This paper reviews attributes of Quaternary lakes and lake basins which are often important in the environmental prehistory of semideserts. Basin-floor and basin-closure morphometry have set limits on palaeolake sizes; lake morphometry and basin drainage patterns have influenced lacustrine processes; and water and sediment loads have influenced basin neotectonics. Information regarding inundated, runoff-producing, and extra-basin spatial domains is acquired directly from the palaeolake record, including the littoral morphostratigraphic record, and indirectly by reconstruction. Increasingly detailed hypotheses regarding Lake Bonneville, the largest late Pleistocene palaeolake in the Great Basin, are subjects for further testing and refinement. Oscillating transgression of Lake Bonneville began about 28 ka, the highest stage occurred about 15 ka, and termination occurred abruptly about 13 ka. A final resurgence of perennial lakes probably occurred in many subbasins of the Great Basin between 11 and 10 ka, when the highest stage of Great Salt Lake (successor to Lake Bonneville) developed the Gilbert shoreline — and when the Russell shoreline formed 500–600 km away, in the Carson Desert of the Lake Lahontan basin. The highest post-Gilbert stage of Great Salt Lake, which has been one of the few permanent lakes in the Great Basin during Holocene time, probably occurred between 3 and 2 ka. A set of eighteen general observations regarding geologic aspects of the palaeolake record in semidesert basins is helping to guide Quaternary studies in the Great Basin.
Madsen, D.B., D. Rhode, D.K. Grayson, J.M. Broughton, S.D. Livingston, J.Hunt, J. Quade, D.N. Schmitt, M.W. Shaver, III (2001). Late Quaternary environmental change in the Bonneville Basin, western U.S.A.. Paleogeography, Paleoclimatology, Paleoecology 167 (3-4): 243-271
ABSTRACT: Excavation and analyses of small animal remains from stratified raptor deposits spanning the last 11.5 ka, together with collection and analysis of over 60 dated fossil woodrat midden samples spanning the last 50 ka, provide a detailed record of changing climate in the eastern Great Basin during the late Pleistocene and Holocene. Sagebrush steppe dominated the northern Bonneville basin during the Full Glacial, suggesting that conditions were cold and relatively dry, in contrast to the southern basin, which was also cold but moister. Limber pine woodlands dominated ~13–11.5 ka, indicating increased dryness and summer temperatures ~6–7°C cooler than present. This drying trend accelerated after ~11.5 ka causing Lake Bonneville to drop rapidly, eliminating 11 species of fish from the lake. From ~11.5–8.2 ka xerophytic sagebrush and shadscale scrub replaced more mesophilic shrubs in a step-wise fashion. A variety of small mammals and plants indicate the early Holocene was ~3°C cooler and moister than at present, not warmer as suggested by a number of climatic models. The diversity of plants and animals changed dramatically after 8.2 ka as many species disappeared from the record. Some of the upland species returned after ~4 ka and Great Salt Lake became fresh enough at ~3.4 and ~1.2 ka to support populations of Utah chub.
R. Negrini, D. Erbes, K. Faber, A. Herrera, A. Roberts, A. Cohen, P. Wigand, F. Foit (2000). A paleoclimate record for the past 250,000 years from Summer Lake, Oregon, USA. 1. chronology and magnetic proxies for lake level. Journal of Paleolimnology 24 (2): 125-149
ABSTRACT: This study presents the age control and environmental magnetism components of a new, late Pleistocene paleoclimate record for the Great Basin of western North America. Two new cores from the Summer Lake sub-basin of pluvial Lake Chewaucan, Oregon, USA are correlated to basin margin outcrops on the basis of tephrochronology, lithostratigraphy, sediment magnetism and paleomagnetic secular variation. Eleven tephra layers were found in the cores that correlate to tephra identified previously in the outcrop. The Olema ash was also found in one of the cores; its stratigraphic position, relative to 3 dated tephra layers, indicates that its age is 50-55 ka, somewhat younger than has been previously reported. The Summer Lake sediments are divided into deep and shallow lake lithosomes based on sedimentary features. The stratigraphic position of these lithosomes support the tephra-based correlations between the outcrop and the cores. These sediments contain a well resolved record of the Mono Lake Excursion (MLE) and an earlier paleomagnetic excursion as well as a high quality replication of the paleosecular variation immediately above the MLE.
Relative sedimentation rates increased dramatically toward the depocenter during intervals of low-lake level. In contrast, during intervals of high-lake level, relative sedimentation rates were comparable along the basin axis from the basin margin to the depocenter. The magnetic mineralogy of the Summer Lake sediments is dominated by pseudo-single domain (titano)magnetite and intervals of high/low magnetite concentration coincide with lithosomes that indicate high/low lake levels. Magnetic grain size also varies in accord with bulk sediment grain size as indicated by the silt/clay ratio. To a first order, variations in magnetic parameters, especially those attributable to the concentration of magnetic minerals, correlate well with global glacial/interglacial oscillations as indicated by marine oxygen isotope stages. This relationship can be explained by increased dissolution of (titano)magnetite minerals as lake level dropped and the lake became more productive biologically. This inference is supported by a correspondence between lower concentrations of magnetite with higher levels of total organic carbon and vice-versa.
D. P. Balch, A. S. Cohen, D. W. Schnurrenberger, B. J. Haskell, B. L. Valero-Garces, J. W. Beck, H. Cheng, R.L. Edwards (2005). Ecosystem and paleohydrological response to Quaternary climate change in the Bonneville Basin, Utah. Paleogeography, Paleoclimatology, Paleoecology 221 (1-2): 99-122
ABSTRACT: We report the results of a detailed paleoecological study of the Bonneville basin covering the last ~280,000 yr. Our study used fossil ostracodes and a sedimentological record obtained from the August 2000 GLAD800 drilling operation at Great Salt Lake. We analyzed 125 samples, taken at ~1 m intervals from Site 4 (GSL00-4), for ostracodes and other paleoecologic and sedimentologic indicators of environmental change. Multivariate analyses applied to the ostracode data and qualitative analyses of fossil and sedimentological data indicate an alternation between three major environments at the core site over the cored interval: (1) shallow saline or hypersaline lakes; (2) salt or freshwater marshes; and (3) occasional deep freshwater lakes. These environmental changes are consistent with shoreline studies of regional lake level fluctuations, but provide considerable new detail on both the timing and environmental conditions associated with the various lake phases. Our age model (using14 C, U-series, tephra and biostratigraphic chronologies) allowed us to associate the core's record of regional paleohydrology with the marine oxygen isotope stages of global climate change. The core contains continuous records for the last four glacial/interglacial sequences. Salt/freshwater marshes were common during the interglacials and deep freshwater conditions correspond with maximum global ice volume in OIS 2, and before a maximum in global ice during OIS 6. Immediately following deep lake phases, crashes in lake level from rapid desiccation resulted in the deposition of thick evaporite units. Our study suggests that the climate of the Great Salt Lake catchment appears to have been drier during OIS 6 than during OIS 2.We compare our record of environmental change during OIS 6 glaciation with other records from the western United States and find that the overall pattern of climate was similar throughout the West, but differences in the timing of climate change (i.e. when a region became drier or moister) are common.
ABSTRACT: Lake Bonneville, the largest late Pleistocene closed-basin lake in the North American Great Basin, fluctuated widely in response to changes in climate. The geochemistry and mineralogy of endogenic calcium carbonate deposited in deep water, and stratigraphic studies of shore-zone deposits, provide evidence of millennial-scale lake-level fluctuations that had amplitudes of about 50 m between 30 and 10 ka. Falling-lake events occurred at 21, 18.5–19, 17.5, 16–15.5, 14–13, and 10 ka (radiocarbon years) synchronously with the terminations of Heinrich events H1 and H2 and other smaller scale iceberg-rafting events (a, b, c, and Younger Dryas) in the North Atlantic Ocean. The Lake Bonneville results thus support other climate records that suggest that late Pleistocene millennial-scale climate change was global in extent. The size and shape of the Northern Hemisphere ice sheets, which determined the mean positions of storm tracks, may have been the primary control on late Pleistocene water budgets of Great Basin lakes.
ABSTRACT: From ca. 50 to 20 ka, Summer Lake, Oregon, rose and fell in tune with North Atlantic interstadial and stadial climatic oscillations, respectively. This record exhibits the complete morphology of the North Atlantic millennial-scale climate-change signal including Dansgaard-Oeschger oscillations, Heinrich events, and Bond cycles. The phase relationship of these climate change records (high Summer Lake during warm North Atlantic; low during cold) is demonstrated at millennial-scale resolution by the relative positions of the Mono Lake and Laschamp paleomagnetic excursions in these records. These results, in conjunction with comparisons of historical climate records, also presented here, imply a direct temporal connection at the subcentury scale between the North Atlantic and the northwestern Great Basin via an atmospheric teleconnection.
H. S. Godsey, D.R. Currey, M. A. Chan (2005). New evidence for an extended occupation of the Provo shoreline and implications for regional climate change, Pleistocene Lake Bonneville, Utah, USA. Quaternary Research 63 (2): 212-223
ABSTRACT: Lake Bonneville was a climatically sensitive, closed-basin lake that occupied the eastern Great Basin during the late Pleistocene. Ongoing efforts to refine the record of lake level history are important for deciphering climate conditions in the Bonneville basin and for facilitating correlations with regional and global records of climate change. Radiocarbon data from this and other studies suggest that the lake oscillated at or near the Provo level much longer than depicted by current models of lake level change. Radiocarbon data also suggest that the lake dropped from threshold control much more rapidly than previously supposed. These revisions to the Lake Bonneville hydrograph, coupled with independent evidence of climate change from vegetation and glacial records, have important implications for conditions in the Bonneville basin and during the Pleistocene to Holocene transition.
A. Cohen, M. Palacios-Fest, R. Negrini, P. Wigand, D. Erbes (2000). A paleoclimate record for the past 250,000 years from Summer Lake, Oregon, USA: II. Sedimentology, paleontology and geochemistry. Journal of Paleolimnology 24 (2): 151-182
ABSTRACT: We have obtained a detailed paleoenvironmental record in the Summer Lake Basin, Oregon (northwestern Great Basin, US) spanning from 250 ka-5 ka. This record is derived from core and outcrop sites extending from a proximal deltaic setting to near the modern depocenter. Lithostratigraphic, paleontologic (ostracodes and pollen) and geochemical indicators all provide evidence for hydroclimate and climate change over the study interval. Lithostratigraphic analysis of the Summer Lake deposits allows subdivision into a series of unconformity - or paraconformity-bound lithosomes. The unconformity and facies histories indicate that the lake underwent several major lake-level excursions through the Middle and Late Pleistocene. High stands occurred between ~200 and ~165 ka, between ~89 and 50 ka and between ~25 and 13 ka. Uppermost Pleistocene and Holocene sediments have been removed by deflation of the basin, with the exception of a thin veneer of late Holocene sediment. These high stands correspond closely with Marine Oxygen Isotope Stages 6, 4 and 2, within the margin of error associated with the Summer Lake age model. A major unconformity from ~158 ka until ~102 ka (duration varies between sites) interrupts the record at both core and outcrop sites. Lake level fluctuations, in turn are closely linked with TOC and salinity fluctuations, such that periods of lake high stands correlate with periods of relatively low productivity, fresher water and increased water inflow/evaporation ratios. Paleotemperature estimates based on palynology and geochemistry (Mg/Ca ratios in ostracodes) indicate an overall decrease in temperature from ~236 ka-165 ka, with a brief interlude of warming and drying immediately after this (prior to the major unconformity). This temperature decrease was superimposed on higher frequency variations in temperature that are not evident in the sediments deposited during the past 100 ka. Indicators disagree about temperatures immediately following the unconformity (~102-95 ka), but most suggest warmer temperatures between ~100-89 ka, followed by a rapid and dramatic cooling event. Cooler conditions persisted throughout most of the remainder of the Pleistocene at Summer Lake, with the possible exception of brief warm intervals about 27-23 ka. Paleotemperature estimates for the proximal deltaic site are more erratic than for more distal sites, indicative of short term air temperature excursions that are buffered in deeper water. Estimates of paleotemperature from Mg/Ca ratios are generally in good agreement with evidence from upland palynology. However, there is a significant discordance between the upland pollen record and lake indicators with respect to paleoprecipitation for some parts of the record. Several possibilities may explain this discordance. We favor a direct link between lake level and salinity fluctuations and climate change, but we also recognize the possibility that some of these hydroclimate changes in the Summer Lake record may have resulted from episodic drainage captures of the Chewaucan River between the Summer Lake and Lake Abert basins.
ABSTRACT: Mapping and radiocarbon dates of cirque moraines in the Sierra Nevada demonstrate that the last significant pre-Little Ice Age glacier advance in the range, the Recess Peak, resulted from snowline lowering roughly twice that of the Matthes (Little Ice Age) advance, and that the Recess Peak advance is late Pleistocene in age. We mapped Recess Peak and Matthes deposits in 64 cirques along a profile of the main Sierran crest that spans the north-south limits of `Neoglacial' deposits in the range. Equilibrium-line altitudes for the reconstructed Recess Peak glaciers vary greatly but coherently with those of the Matthes advance. The variability of both sets of deposits reflects strong topographic influences on snow accumulation and ablation patterns in their deep cirques.
Tephrochronology and radiocarbon dates from lake-sediment cores provide limits on the timing of the two advances. Previous work documenting the absence of a young, regionally extensive tephra on Matthes moraines in the central Sierra demonstrates that they formed after ~70014 C years BP (~650 cal. years BP). The age of the Recess Peak advance has been less certain; we therefore collected and dated sediment cores from lakes dammed behind terminal moraines correlating to the Recess Peak advance in four widely separated drainages along the Sierran crest (north to south): South Fork American River, Lee Vining Creek, Middle Fork San Joaquin River, and Bishop Creek. Twenty-three high-precision AMS radiocarbon dates on gyttja, peat, and macrofossils from the cores are internally consistent and demonstrate that the Recess Peak advance, previously thought to be of late Holocene age (~2500 years BP), ended before 11,190±7014 C years BP (~13,100±85 cal. years BP). Recess Peak is therefore late Pleistocene in age and probably predates the North Atlantic Younger Dryas climatic reversal. The absence of any glacial deposits on the bedrock between the Recess Peak and Matthes deposits indicates that: (1) any advance related to the Younger Dryas event in central California was smaller than the Matthes advance; (2) the Matthes advance was the most extensive, and possibly the only, Neoglacial event in the range; and (3) climate in the Sierra between ~13,000 cal. years BP and 650 cal. years BP was apparently too warm and/or dry to support glaciers larger than those of the Little Ice Age. Other mapping indicates that the Recess Peak is the first significant glacier advance after retreat of Tioga (local late-Wisconsin maximum) glaciers. These results suggest a regionally variable climate in western North America during the Younger Dryas event, because glaciers appear to have expanded in the Canadian Rockies at that time.
The new Recess Peak age limits, combined with other dated lake cores, indicate that the Sierra was essentially deglaciated by 14,000–15,000 cal. years BP (~12,000–13,00014 C years BP), substantially earlier than previously estimated. This finding indicates that current production rates of some in situ cosmogenic nuclides, calibrated on an assumed deglaciation of the range at 11,000 cal. years BP (~10,00014 C years BP), may be systematically too high by as much as 20%.
ABSTRACT: The highest shoreline features of paleo-Lake Malheur are undated gravelly barrier beaches south of Harney Lake that lie ca. 3.5 m higher than the hydrographic outlet of Harney Basin at Malheur Gap (1254 m). The earliest Quaternary record for Lake Malheur consists of occurrences of water-deposited tephra dated to ca. 70,000–80,000 yr ago. The next identified lake interval is dated by shells with ages of ca. 32,000 and 29,500 yr B.P. No dates are available for the terminal-Pleistocene Lake Malheur. Lake(s) were present between ca. 9600 and 7400 yr B.P., although periodic low levels or desiccation are suggested by a paleosol dated as ca. 8000 yr B.P. The lake system probably dried further after 7400 yr B.P., although dates are lacking for the period between ca. 7400 and 5000 yr B.P. Dune deposits on the lake floor are ca. 5000 yr old and indicate generally dry conditions. Fluctuating shallow lakes have probably characterized the last 2000 years. A date of 1000 yr B.P. gives a maximum age for beach deposits at 1254 m, near the basin threshold elevation. Thus, the Malheur Lake system may have drained to the Pacific Ocean by way of Malheur Gap during the latest Holocene.
L. D. Grigg, C. Whitlock, W. E. Dean (2001). Evidence for millennial-scale climate change during marine isotope stages 2 and 3 at Little Lake, western Oregon, U.S.A.. Quaternary Research 56 (1): 10-22
ABSTRACT: Pollen and geochemical data from Little Lake, western Oregon, suggest several patterns of millennial-scale environmental change during marine isotope stage (MIS) 2 (14,100–27,600 cal yr B.P.) and the latter part of MIS 3 (27,600–42,500 cal yr B.P.). During MIS 3, a series of transitions between warm- and cold-adapted taxa indicate that temperatures oscillated by ca. 2°–4°C every 1000–3000 yr. Highs and lows in summer insolation during MIS 3 are generally associated with the warmest and coldest intervals. Warm periods at Little Lake correlate with warm sea-surface temperatures in the Santa Barbara Basin. Changes in the strength of the subtropical high and the jet stream may account for synchronous changes at the two sites. During MIS 2, shifts between mesic and xeric subalpine forests suggest changes in precipitation every 1000–3000 yr. Increases inTsuga heterophylla pollen at 25,000 and 22,000 cal yr B.P. imply brief warmings. Minimum summer insolation and maximum global ice-volumes during MIS 2 correspond to cold and dry conditions. Fluctuations in precipitation at Little Lake do not correlate with changes in the Santa Barbara Basin and may be explained by variations in the strength of the glacial anticyclone and the position of the jet stream.
ABSTRACT: Surficial deposits in Bear Lake Valley, Utah and Idaho, demonstrate that Bear Lake and its surrounding wetlands expanded and contracted several times during the Quaternary Period. Deposits in 40 outcrops and the geomorphology of the valley were studied to reconstruct the water-level history. Temporal control was provided by amino acid geochronology on 29 samples of aquatic mollusks, calibrated by14 C dating and tephrochronology. Samples of three molluscan genera were heated and analyzed to determine intergeneric differences in aspartic (Asp) and glutamic (Glu) acid racemization. The covariance of Asp and Glu racemization in these genera was used to identify aberrant amino acid analyses. The rate of Glu racemization was calibrated by using a parabolic model that was used to estimate sample ages.
Although the paucity of exposures, uncertainty of the depositional setting, and postdepositional uplift of deposits hamper an accurate reconstruction of water level in Bear Lake Valley, several conclusions can be drawn. During the middle Pleistocene, lacustrine or wetland environments in northern Bear Lake Valley may have extended up to 1830 masl (meters above sea level; 6000 ft) twice between ca. 1000–100 ka (Bear Hollow phase). During the late Pleistocene, the shoreline of Bear Lake transgressed at least three times: (1) to 1817 masl (5960 ft) at 47–39 cal. (calendar-year-corrected) ka (Jensen Spring phase); (2) to 1814 masl (5950 ft) at ca. 16–15 cal. ka (Raspberry Square phase); and (3) to 1814 masl at ca. 9 cal. ka (Willis Ranch phase).
Bear River currently bypasses Bear Lake, but flowed into the lake during highstands and allowed the water level to rise to the valley threshold at Nounan narrows. Water levels have lowered to 1806 masl (5923 ft) since the middle Pleistocene, likely because of downcutting by Bear River at Nounan narrows. Because downcutting at Nounan narrows controls the maximum attainable water level in Bear Lake Valley, effects of climate change on lake level are limited, and Bear Lake may actually have been smaller than today when Lake Bonneville transgressed to its maximum shoreline during the Last Glacial Maximum.
ABSTRACT: Low-frequency (interannual or longer period) climatic variability is of interest because of its significance for the understanding and prediction of protracted climatic anomalies. Closed basin lakes are sensitive to long-term climatic fluctuations and integrate out high-frequency variability. It is thus natural to examine the records of such lakes to better understand long-term climate dynamics. Here we use singular spectral analysis and multitaper spectral analysis to analyze the time series of Great Salt Lake (GSL) monthly volume change from 1848 to 1992 and monthly precipitation, temperature, and streamflow for nearby stations with 74 or more years of data. This analysis reveals high fractional variance in 15-18, 10-12, 3-7 and 2-year frequency bands, which seems to be consistent across time series. The putative decadal and interdecadal signals appear to be related to large-scale climate signals. The interannual signals are consistent with El Niño Southern Oscillation and quasi-biennial variability. Prospects for improved prediction of the GSL volume and of protracted wet/dry periods in the western United States are discussed.
ABSTRACT: Shoreline altitudes of several pluvial lakes in the western Great Basin of North America record successively smaller lakes from the early to the late Pleistocene. This decrease in lake size indicates a long-term drying trend in the regional climate that is not seen in global marine oxygen-isotope records. At +70 m above its late Pleistocene shoreline, Lake Lahontan in the early middle Pleistocene submerged some basins previously thought to have been isolated. Other basins known to contain records of older pluvial lakes that exceeded late Pleistocene levels include Columbus-Fish Lake (Lake Columbus-Rennie), Kobeh-Diamond (Lakes Jonathan and Diamond), Newark, Long (Lake Hubbs), and Clover. Very high stands of some of these lakes probably triggered overflows of previously internally drained basins, adding to the size of Lake Lahontan. Simple calculations based on differences in lake area suggest that the highest levels of these pluvial lakes required a regional increase in effective moisture by a factor of 1.2 to 3 relative to late Pleistocene pluvial amounts (assuming that effective moisture is directly proportional to the hydrologic index, or lake area/tributary basin area). These previously unknown lake levels reflect significant changes in climate, tectonics, and (or) drainage-basin configurations, and could have facilitated migration of aquatic species in the Great Basin.
ABSTRACT: Mono Basin, on the eastern flank of the central Sierra Nevada, is the highest of the large hydrographically closed basins in the Basin and Range province. We use geomorphic features, shoreline deposits, and basalt-filled paleochannels to reconstruct an early to middle Pleistocene record of shorelines and changing spillways of Lake Russell in Mono Basin. During this period of time, Lake Russell repeatedly attained altitudes between 2205 and 2280 m—levels far above the present surface of Mono Lake (1950 m) and above its last overflow level (2188 m). The spill point of Lake Russell shifted through time owing to late Tertiary and Quaternary faulting and volcanism. During the early Pleistocene, the lake periodically discharged through the Mount Hicks spillway on the northeastern rim of Mono Basin and flowed northward into the Walker Lake drainage basin via the East Walker River. Paleochannels recording such discharge were incised prior to 1.6 Ma, possibly between 1.6 and 1.3 Ma, and again after 1.3 Ma (ages of basaltic flows that plugged the paleochannels). Faulting in the Adobe Hills on the southeastern margin of the basin eventually lowered the rim in this area to below the altitude of the Mount Hicks spillway. Twice after 0.76 Ma, and possibly as late as after 0.1 Ma, Lake Russell discharged southward through the Adobe Hills spillway into the Owens–Death Valley system of lakes. This study supports a pre- Pleistocene aquatic connection through Mono Basin between the hydrologically distinct Lahontan and Owens–Death Valley systems, as long postulated by biologists, and also confirms a probable link during the Pleistocene for species adapted to travel upstream in fast-flowing water.
ABSTRACT: Deposits of a transgressive-phase Lake Bonneville stillstand or oscillation are found just below the elevation of the regressive-phase Provo shoreline at numerous exposures throughout the Bonneville basin. Existence of these subProvo shoreline deposits provides a new explanation for the massive size of Provo depositional and erosional landforms, which can no longer be explained by a long stillstand at the Provo shoreline. Provo coastal landforms are large because they are superimposed on subProvo landforms. Results also help to clarify divergent interpretations regarding the relative age of the Provo shoreline and the number of times it was occupied by the water plane. Occupation of approximately the same level during both the transgressive and the regressive phase of Lake Bonneville may be coincidental, or it may indicate that a bedrock sill controlled outflow at subProvo as well as Provo time. Rise to the Bonneville level could have occurred after massive slope failure plugged the outlet pass.
L. V. Benson, S. P. Lund, J. W. Burdett, M. Kashgarian, T. P. Rose, J. P. Smoot, M. Schwartz (1998). Correlation of late-Pleistocene lake-level oscillations in Mono Lake, California, with North Atlantic climate events. Quaternary Research 49 (1): 1-10
ABSTRACT: Oxygen-18 (18 O) values of sediment from the Wilson Creek Formation, Mono Basin, California, indicate three scales of temporal variation (Dansgaard–Oeschger, Heinrich, and Milankovitch) in the hydrologic balance of Mono Lake between 35,400 and 12,90014 C yr B.P. During this interval, Mono Lake experienced four lowstands each lasting from 1000 to 2000 yr. The youngest lowstand, which occurred between 15,500 and 14,00014 C yr B.P., was nearly synchronous with a desiccation of Owens Lake, California. Paleomagnetic secular variation (PSV) data indicate that three of four persistent lowstands occurred at the same times as Heinrich events H1, H2, and H4.18 O data indicate the two highest lake levels occurred ~18,000 and ~13,10014 C yr B.P., corresponding to passages of the mean position of the polar jet stream over the Mono Basin. Extremely low values of total inorganic carbon between 26,000 and 14,00014 C yr B.P. indicate glacial activity, corresponding to a time when summer insolation was much reduced.
Bachuber, F.W. (1989). The occurence and paleolimnologic significance of cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarki ) in pluvial lakes of the Estancia Valley, central New Mexico. Geological Society of America Bulletin 101 (12): 1543-1551
ABSTRACT: Cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarki ) fossils in the Quaternary-age lacustrine sediment of the Estancia Valley provide insight into the paleolimnologic history of the valley. The presence of fish is evidence that a pluvial system overflowed into the Pecos River watershed. Most likely, the overflow occurred during the expansion of Early Lake Estancia, an Illinoian or pre-Illinoian pluvial lake known only in subcrop. Once established in the Estancia watershed, trout occupied headwater streams and only intermittently migrated and resided in developing lake systems. The headwater streams served as refugia through the Sangamon(?) and early and middle Wisconsin time when a fresh-water lake did not exist in the valley. With the advent of full-pluvial conditions during the late Wisconsin, trout migrated from headwater streams into the first of three fresh-water phases of Late Lake Estancia. On two occasions, climate shifted to warmer and drier conditions, causing significant lake-level drawdown. Salinity increased and trout were eliminated from the lake, only to be reintroduced during the next fresh-water phase. Near the close of the late Wisconsin, Late Lake Estancia waned and desiccated, but headwater streams remained as fish refugia. Following the interpluvial episode, the basin again filled, culminating in Lake Willard, considered to be of latest Wisconsin age. With evolution into a fresh-water body, trout migrated into a lake environment for the last time. Ensuing hot/dry conditions brought about the desiccation of Lake Willard and severely impacted the headwater streams. This factor, in possible combination with human fishing activity, led to the elimination of fish from the Estancia Valley after a continuous occupation of at least 130,000 yr.