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Collapse of the North American ice saddle 14,500 years ago caused widespread cooling and reduced ocean overturning circulation

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Ruza F. Ivanovic, Lauren J. Gregoire, Andrew D. Wickert, Paul J. Valdes, Andrea Burke

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Abstract

Collapse of ice sheets can cause significant sea-level rise and widespread climate change. We examine the climatic response to meltwater generated by the collapse of the Cordilleran-Laurentide ice saddle (North America) ~14.5 thousand years ago (ka) using a high-resolution drainage model coupled to an ocean-atmosphere-vegetation General Circulation Model. Equivalent to 7.26 m global mean sea-level rise in 340 years, the meltwater caused a 6 Sv weakening of Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) and widespread Northern Hemisphere cooling of 1-5 °C. The greatest cooling is in the Atlantic-sector high latitudes during Boreal winter (by 5-10 °C), but there is also strong summer warming of 1-3 °C over eastern North America. Following recent suggestions that the Saddle Collapse was triggered by the Bølling Warming event ~14.7-14.5 ka, we conclude that this robust sub-millennial mechanism may have initiated the end of the warming and/or the Older Dryas cooling through a forced AMOC weakening.
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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)383-392
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Volume44
Issue number1
Early online date9 Jan 2017
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 16 Jan 2017

    Research areas

  • AMOC, Ice sheet melt, Saddle collapse, Older Dryas

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