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TitleThe reduced Lakes Erie and Ontario, a severe response to a past drier climate
AuthorLewis, MORCID logo; Anderson, T W; Cameron, GORCID logo; King, J W; Heil, C W, Jr.
SourceIAGLR2010, Great Lakes Conference, abstract book; 2010 p. 148-149
Alt SeriesEarth Sciences Sector, Contribution Series 20090410
Meeting53rd Annual IAGLR Conference on Great Lakes Research; Toronto, ON; CA; May 17-21, 2010
AreaGreat Lakes; Lake Ontario; Lake Erie
Lat/Long WENS -84.0000 -76.0000 44.5000 41.0000
Subjectshydrogeology; environmental geology; Nature and Environment; lake water depths; lakes; lake water; climate; climate effects; environmental analysis; Holocene; Climate change; Cenozoic
ProgramClimate Change Geoscience
Released2010 01 01
AbstractRecent analysis of geological evidence of former water level indicators has revealed a long phase of closed basin conditions in the lower Great Lakes in which water levels were drawn down below their overflow outlets for longer than 5 millennia prior to 6000 years ago by evaporation in the drier-than-present early Holocene climate. Similar lowstands existed in the upper Great Lakes basins but for a shorter period of time (about 500 years) due to the prolonged inflow of glacial meltwater. This new understanding results from at least two new developments in Great Lakes geoscience: 1) removal of the distorting effects of differential glacial rebound so the original elevations of lake-level indicators and outlets could be compared, and 2) abandonment of a long-held paradigm that past lakes always overflowed their outlets. Reconstructions show that the lakes fell up to 17 m (Erie) and 30 to 40 m (Ontario) below their overflow sills. These severe lake responses to the drier early Holocene climate could serve as test beds for hydrological models, and as examples to enhance public understanding of the sensitivity of the lakes to climate change

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