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Keywords:

  • hydrology;
  • Pleistocene lakes;
  • Great Basin

[1] A spatially explicit hydrological model was applied to the Great Basin in the western United States to predict runoff magnitude and lake distributions under modern and late Pleistocene conditions. The model iteratively routes runoff through depression to find a steady state solution and was calibrated with mean annual precipitation, pan evaporation, temperature, and stream runoff data. The predicted lake distribution provides a close match to present-day lakes. For the late Pleistocene, the sizes of lakes Bonneville and Lahontan are well predicted by linear combinations of 0.2°–5.8°C decreases in temperature and corresponding increases in precipitation from 2.0 to 1.0 times modern values. This corresponds to runoff depths ranging from 1.7 to 4.1 times the present values and yearly evaporation from 0.4 to 1 times modern values. To reproduce Lake Manly, however, combinations of temperature decreases up to 9°C or precipitation up to 2.8 times the present values were required.