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Out of the tropics: the Pacific, Great Basin lakes, and late Pleistocene water cycle in the western United States

Science

By:
, , , , , , ,
DOI: 10.1126/science.1218390

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Abstract

The water cycle in the western U.S. changed dramatically over glacial cycles. In the last 20,000 years, higher precipitation caused desert lakes to form which have since dried out. Higher glacial precipitation is hypothesized to result from a southward shift of Pacific winter storm tracks. We compared Pacific Ocean data to lake levels from the interior west and found that Great Basin lake high stands are older than coastal wet periods at the same latitude. Westerly storms were not the source of high precipitation. Instead, air masses from the tropical Pacific were transported northward, bringing more precipitation into the Great Basin when coastal California was still dry. The changing climate during the deglaciation altered precipitation source regions and strongly affected the regional water cycle.

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Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Article
Publication Subtype:
Journal Article
Title:
Out of the tropics: the Pacific, Great Basin lakes, and late Pleistocene water cycle in the western United States
Series title:
Science
DOI:
10.1126/science.1218390
Volume
337
Year Published:
2012
Language:
English
Publisher:
American Association for the Advancement of Science
Contributing office(s):
Volcano Science Center
Description:
5 p.
Larger Work Type:
Article
Larger Work Subtype:
Journal Article
Larger Work Title:
Science
First page:
1629
Last page:
1633
Number of Pages:
5
Country:
United States