Norris, S. L., Garcia-Castellanos, D., Jansen, J. D., Carling, P. A., Margold, M., Woywitka, R. J., & Froese, D. G. (2021). Catastrophic drainage from the northwestern outlet of glacial Lake Agassiz during the Younger Dryas. Geophysical Research Letters, 48, e2021GL093919.



Catastrophic meltwater drainage from glacial Lake Agassiz has been hypothesized as a trigger for large-scale ocean circulation change initiating the Younger Dryas cold reversal. Here we quantify the flood discharge that formed the northwestern outlet of Lake Agassiz using a one-dimensional step-backwater model and a zero-dimension gradual-incision model. Applying these two independent models, we estimate a peak discharge range of 1.8–2.5 × 106 m3 s−1 and a flood volume of ∼21,000 km3. Such a discharge can only be derived from Lake Agassiz rather than one of the two smaller regional glacial lakes: Churchill or Meadow. When coupled with existing ice margin chronologies, these results demonstrate that the northwestern outlet of Lake Agassiz provides a viable link for catastrophic meltwater to drain to the Arctic Ocean over a 6–9 month period during the Younger Dryas, though it is unclear whether this was near its beginning.

Reference article

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