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Collaborative Research: Understanding Sensitivity of Great Lakes Water Levels to Climatic Forcing

This award supports a study of the Great Lakes between 9,400 - 7,700 calendar years Before Present (BP). The study is composed of three primary components; correlating Great Lake low water stands, evaluating paleoclimate variability using multi-proxy data to determine past atmospheric conditions, and reconstructing the paleogeography to model climatic and hydrologic conditions in the area. The researchers hypothesize that lake levels were below their present levels after 9,000 cal BP due to the combined effects of the southward incursion of dry Arctic air and the increase of eastern warm-dry Pacific air. This would allow for the eastern expansion of prairie vegetation and may have delayed the recovery of the Great Lakes from a closed to an open system until 7,800 cal BP. <br/><br/>This research will increase our understanding of the relation between climate change and water levels in the Great Lakes. Lake level changes have broad socio-economic and environmental impacts so it is important to understand how and why they change.

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