L V. Benson (U.S. Geological Survey), James W. Burdett (Cornell University), Michaele Kashgarian (Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory), Steve P. Lund (University of Southern California), Joseph P. Smoot (U.S. Geological Survey), Scott Mensing (University of Nevada, Reno), Robert O. Rye (U.S. Geological Survey), and Tim P. Rose (Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory).
Evidence for Great Basin millennial-scale climate change from the Mono basin, California, has tended to confirm this hypothesis. Oxygen-18 values of sediments from the Wilson Creek formation, Mono basin, California, indicate three scales of temporal variation (Milankovitch, Heinrich and Dansgaard-Oeschger) in the hydrologic balance of Lake Russell between 35,500 and 12,900 radiocarbon years ago. During this interval, Mono Lake experienced four lowstands each lasting between 1000 and 2000 years. Each lowstand was initiated and terminated by abrupt changes in wetness. Paleomagnetic secular variation data indicate that three of the four lowstands occurred at the same times as Heinrich events H1, H2 and H4 in the North Atlantic Ocean. Oxygen-isotope data also indicate that the two wettest intervals occurred 18,000 and 13,500 years ago, corresponding to the pre- and post-glacial-maximum passages of the mean position of the polar jet stream over the Mono Basin.
With the retreat of Northern Hemispheric ice sheets during the Last Glacial Termination (15,000 to 10,000 radiocarbon years ago), the climate of the North Atlantic region experienced a series of abrupt oscillations that were recorded as the Oldest Dryas/Bolling/Older Dryas/Allerod/Younger Dryas vegetational sequence in European terrestrial sediments. Evidence of irregular cold-warm oscillations has also been found in Greenland ice cores and has been equated with the Oldest Dryas-Holocene vegetational sequence. Although questions remain as to the geographic extent of many of these oscillations, the last major cold event (the Younger Dryas event) appears to have been global in extent. Stable-isotope data from cored sediments taken from the Owens Lake basin, California, evidence four major oscillations in the hydrologic balance of this surface-water system during the Last Glacial Termination. The data demonstrate that climatic transitions in western North America were nearly synchronous with climate transitions occurring in the North Atlantic. When the climate of the North Atlantic region was cold and dry, the climate of the Owens Lake basin was also dry. This implies that climate variability in the two regions was linked by an atmospheric teleconnection. The linkage further suggests that cooling of the North Atlantic Ocean, which accompanied decrease in thermohaline circulation, caused a downstream cooling of the North Pacific which in turn decreased the amount of moisture reaching the western United States.