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WeatherTalk: Imagining the end of the last glaciation

Meltwater formed a huge lake that covered much of what is now Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and the Red River Valley region.

Cartoon of John Wheeler with a speech bubble depicting weather events
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As the great ice sheet of the Wisconsin Glaciation retreated, meltwater formed a huge lake that covered much of what is now Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and the Red River Valley region. Lake Agassiz covered this region from 13,000 years ago until about 8,000 years ago. During this time, the last of the woolly mammoths, mastodons, saber-tooth cats and other large ice age animals were still around. The climate would likely have supported mostly grasslands, perhaps similar in some ways to arctic tundra found in higher latitudes today.

Winters in our region were certainly colder than those today, but the summers would have been relatively warm. The ice sheet to the north would have been a source for intense high-pressure systems, so the weather would probably have been considerably windier than what we have today. When Lake Agassiz drained catastrophically to the sea, it is estimated that the level of the oceans rose more than three feet.

Related Topics: WEATHER
John Wheeler is Chief Meteorologist for WDAY, a position he has had since May of 1985. Wheeler grew up in the South, in Louisiana and Alabama, and cites his family's move to the Midwest as important to developing his fascination with weather and climate. Wheeler lived in Wisconsin and Iowa as a teenager. He attended Iowa State University and achieved a B.S. degree in Meteorology in 1984. Wheeler worked about a year at WOI-TV in central Iowa before moving to Fargo and WDAY..
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