Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting nature.com. You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Enhanced ice sheet growth in Eurasia owing to adjacent ice-dammed lakes

Abstract

Large proglacial lakes cool regional summer climate because of their large heat capacity, and have been shown to modify precipitation through mesoscale atmospheric feedbacks, as in the case of Lake Agassiz1. Several large ice-dammed lakes, with a combined area twice that of the Caspian Sea, were formed in northern Eurasia about 90,000 years ago, during the last glacial period when an ice sheet centred over the Barents and Kara seas2 blocked the large northbound Russian rivers3. Here we present high-resolution simulations with an atmospheric general circulation model that explicitly simulates the surface mass balance of the ice sheet. We show that the main influence of the Eurasian proglacial lakes was a significant reduction of ice sheet melting at the southern margin of the Barents–Kara ice sheet through strong regional summer cooling over large parts of Russia. In our simulations, the summer melt reduction clearly outweighs lake-induced decreases in moisture and hence snowfall, such as has been reported earlier for Lake Agassiz1. We conclude that the summer cooling mechanism from proglacial lakes accelerated ice sheet growth and delayed ice sheet decay in Eurasia and probably also in North America.

Your institute does not have access to this article

Access options

Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.

$32.00

All prices are NET prices.

Figure 1: Maximum ice sheet and lake extent in northern Russia during the early Weichselian, about 90,000 yr ago.
Figure 2: Lake-induced climate anomalies between simulation L and simulation NL.
Figure 3: Simulated ice sheet surface mass balance and lake-induced surface mass balance anomaly.

References

  1. Hostetler, S. W., Bartlein, P. J., Clark, P. U., Small, E. E. & Solomon, A. M. Simulated influences of Lake Agassiz on the climate of central North America 11,000 years ago. Nature 405, 334–337 (2000)

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Svendsen, J. I. et al. Late Quaternary ice sheet history of Eurasia. Quat. Sci. Rev (in the press)

  3. Mangerud, J., Astakhov, V., Jakobsson, M. & Svendsen, J. I. Huge ice-age lakes in Russia. J. Quat. Sci. 16, 773–777 (2001)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Lundquist, J. Glacial stratigraphy in Sweden. Spec. Pap. Geol. Surv. Finl. 15, 43–59 (1992)

    Google Scholar 

  5. Legates, D. R. & Willmott, C. J. Mean seasonal and spatial variability in global surface air temperature. Theor. Appl. Climatol. 41, 11–21 (1990)

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Legates, D. R. & Willmott, C. J. Mean seasonal and spatial variability in gauge-corrected, global precipitation. Int. J. Climatol. 10, 111–127 (1990)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Genthon, C. & Krinner, G. Antarctic surface mass balance and systematic biases in general circulation models. J. Geophys. Res. 106, 20653–20664 (2001)

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Krinner, G. & Werner, M. Impact of precipitation seasonality changes on isotopic signals in polar ice cores: A multi-model analysis. Earth Planet. Sci. Lett. 216, 525–538 (2003)

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Nelson, F. & Outcalt, S. I. A computational method for prediction and regionalization of permafrost. Arct. Alp. Res. 19, 279–288 (1987)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Mangerud, J., Astakhov, V., Murray, A. & Svendsen, J. I. The chronology of a large ice-dammed lake and the Barents–Kara ice sheet advances, Northern Russia. Glob. Planet. Change 31, 321–336 (2001)

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Mangerud, J. et al. Ice-dammed lakes and rerouting of the drainage of northern Eurasia during the last glaciation. Quat. Sci. Rev. (in the press)

  12. Thompson, S. L. & Pollard, D. Greenland and Antarctic mass balances for present and doubled atmospheric CO2 from the GENESIS version-2 global climate model. J. Clim. 10, 871–900 (1997)

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Teller, J. T. in The Quaternary Period in the United States (eds Gillespie, A., Porter, S. & Atwater, B.) Ch. 3 (Elsevier, Amsterdam, 2003)

    Google Scholar 

  14. Khodri, M. et al. Simulating the amplification of orbital forcing by ocean feedbacks in the last glaciation. Nature 410, 570–574 (2001)

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  15. de Noblet, N. et al. Possible role of atmosphere-biosphere interactions in triggering the last glaciation. Geophys. Res. Lett. 23, 3191–3194 (1996)

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Gallimore, R. G. & Kutzbach, J. E. Role of orbitally induced changes in tundra area in the onset of glaciation. Nature 381, 503–505 (1996)

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Shackleton, N. J. The 100,000-year ice-age cycle identified and found to lag temperature, carbon dioxide, and orbital eccentricity. Science 289, 1897–1902 (2000)

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  18. Berger, A. Long-term variations of daily insolation and Quaternary climatic changes. J. Atmos. Sci. 35, 2362–2367 (1978)

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  19. Clarke, G., Leverington, D., Teller, J. & Dyke, A. Superlakes, megafloods, and abrupt climate change. Science 301, 922–923 (2003)

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  20. Krinner, G., Genthon, C., Li, L. & Le Van, P. Studies of the Antarctic climate using a stretched-grid general circulation model. J. Geophys. Res. 102, 13731–13745 (1997)

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  21. Krinner, G. Impact of lakes and wetlands on boreal climate. J. Geophys. Res. D 108, 101029/2002JD002597 (2003)

  22. Petit, J.-R. et al. Climate and atmospheric history of the past 420,000 years from the Vostok ice core, Antarctica. Nature 399, 426–436 (1999)

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  23. Siegert, M. J., Dowdeswell, J. A., Hald, M. & Svendsen, J. I. Modelling the Eurasian ice sheet through a full (Weichselian) glacial cycle. Glob. Planet. Change 31, 367–385 (2001)

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  24. Marshall, S. J., Tarasov, L., Clarke, G. & Peltier, W. R. Glaciological reconstruction of the Laurentide Ice Sheet: Physical processes and modelling challenges. Can. J. Earth Sci. 37, 769–793 (2000)

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  25. Charbit, S., Ritz, C. & Ramstein, G. Simulations of Northern Hemisphere ice-sheet retreat: Sensitivity to physical mechanisms involved during the Last Deglaciation. Quat. Sci. Rev. 21, 243–266 (2002)

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  26. Crucifix, M., Loutre, M. F., Tulkens, P., Fichefet, T. & Berger, A. Climate evolution during the Holocene: a study with an Earth system model of intermediate complexity. Clim. Dyn. 19, 43–60 (2002)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  27. Crowley, T. Ice age terrestrial carbon changes revisited. Glob. Biogeochem. Cycles 9, 377–389 (1995)

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgements

We thank S. Hostetler for discussions and M. Siegert for comments and suggestions. Model simulations were carried out at IDRIS/CNRS. This work was supported by the ESF and the French national programmes ECLIPSE, PNEDC and ACI Jeunes Chercheurs. The field work and other analyses were funded by the Research Council of Norway by grants to the PECHORA project. M.J. was supported by NOAA.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to G. Krinner.

Ethics declarations

Competing interests

The authors declare that they have no competing financial interests.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Krinner, G., Mangerud, J., Jakobsson, M. et al. Enhanced ice sheet growth in Eurasia owing to adjacent ice-dammed lakes. Nature 427, 429–432 (2004). https://doi.org/10.1038/nature02233

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1038/nature02233

Further reading

Comments

By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.

Search

Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing