A JÖKULHLAUP FROM A LAURENTIAN CAPTURED ICE SHELF TO THE GULF OF MEXICO COULD HAVE CAUSED THE BØLLING WARMING
Since the rapid rate of global warming at the onset of the Bølling interstadial became evident, its cause has been under debate. It coincides closely in time with a strong global transgression called meltwater pulse 1a. One attempt at solution says that a meltwater pulse of Antarctic origin could cause an increase in North Atlantic Deep Water formation, and thus give rise to the Bølling interstadial. However, others have disputed that Antarctic meltwater would have that effect, and furthermore, the start of the Bølling interstadial is not even associated with an increase in North Atlantic Deep Water. A controversial hypothesis says that some Laurentian meltwater came from a jökulhlaup (sub-glacial outburst flood), but no study has yet shown unequivocally that sufficient amounts of water could be stored under the ice. Furthermore, according to all available data a melt-water pulse from the Laurentian ice would give rise to strong cooling, not warming. Nevertheless, meg-afloods appear instrumental in accumulating the Mississippi Fan, created entirely during the Quaternary period, and dramatic climate changes are characteristic of this period. This paper presents a hypothetical chain of events, building on the published literature and simple calculations, to investigate whether the order of magnitude is reasonable. The hypothesis is that a jökulhlaup from a Laurentian captured ice shelf flowed out through the Mississippi, boosted the Gulf Stream, reinvigorated the North Atlantic circulation, and as a result triggered the Bølling warm phase.
Keywords: Mississippi Canyon; Mississippi Fan; Unktehi; Wisconsin glaciation; atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration; atmospheric methane concentration; climate change; climate forcing; deglaciation; ice age; interstadial; megaflood; meltwater pulse; mwp-1a; sea-level change
Document Type: Research Article
Affiliations: Lindorm, Inc., Miami Springs, Florida, USA
Publication date: 2008-06-01