The Younger Dryas (YD) climate event is the preeminent example of abrupt climate change in the recent geologic past. Climate conditions during the YD were spatially complex, and high-resolution sediment cores in the North Atlantic, western Europe, and East Asia have revealed it unfolded in two distinct stages, including an initial stable climatic period between ~ 12.9 and 12.2 ka associated with a weakened Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) and a second phase characterized by variable conditions until 11.7 ka as the AMOC recovered. Decades of investigations into the climate of western North America during the YD have failed to identify this stepped phenomenon. Here we present hydroclimate data from paleospring deposits in Death Valley National Park (California, USA) that demonstrate unequivocal evidence of two-stage partitioning within the YD event. High groundwater levels supported persistent and long-lived spring ecosystems between ~ 13.0 and 12.2 ka, which were immediately replaced by alternating wet and dry environments until ~ 11.8 ka. These results establish the mid-YD climate transition extended into western North America at approximately the same time it was recorded by hydrologic systems elsewhere in the Northern Hemisphere and show that even short-lived changes in the AMOC can have profound consequences for ecosystems worldwide.
|Title||Hydroclimate response of spring ecosystems to a two-stage Younger Dryas event in western North America|
|Authors||Jeffrey S. Pigati, Kathleen B. Springer|
|Publication Subtype||Journal Article|
|Series Title||Scientific Reports|
|Record Source||USGS Publications Warehouse|
|USGS Organization||Geosciences and Environmental Change Science Center|