1 December 2006 Warmer and Drier Climates that Make Terminal Great Lakes
Thomas E. Croley, C. F. Michael Lewis
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A recent empirical model of glacial-isostatic uplift showed that the Huron and Michigan lake level fell tens of meters below the lowest possible outlet about 7,900 14C years BP when the upper Great Lakes became dependent for water supply on precipitation alone, as at present. The upper Great Lakes thus appear to have been impacted by severe dry climate that may have also affected the lower Great Lakes. While continuing paleoclimate studies are corroborating and quantifying this impacting climate and other evidence of terminal lakes, the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory applied their Advanced Hydrologic Prediction System, modified to use dynamic lake areas, to explore the deviations from present temperatures and precipitation that would force the Great Lakes to become terminal (closed), i.e., for water levels to fall below outlet sills. We modeled the present lakes with pre-development natural outlet and water flow conditions, but considered the upper and lower Great Lakes separately with no river connection, as in the early Holocene basin configuration. By using systematic shifts in precipitation, temperature, and humidity relative to the present base climate, we identified candidate climates that result in terminal lakes. The lakes would close in the order: Erie, Superior, Michigan-Huron, and Ontario for increasingly drier and warmer climates. For a temperature rise of T°C and a precipitation drop of P% relative to the present base climate, conditions for complete lake closure range from 4.7T P > 51 for Erie to 3.5T P > 71 for Ontario.

Thomas E. Croley and C. F. Michael Lewis "Warmer and Drier Climates that Make Terminal Great Lakes," Journal of Great Lakes Research 32(4), 852-869, (1 December 2006). https://doi.org/10.3394/0380-1330(2006)32[852:WADCTM]2.0.CO;2
Received: 2 June 2006; Accepted: 6 October 2006; Published: 1 December 2006

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climate change
Great Lakes
terminal lakes
water levels
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