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The interaction of ultraviolet light with Arctic sea ice during SHEBA

  • Donald K. Perovich (a1)

Abstract

The reflection, absorption and transmission of ultraviolet light by a sea-ice cover strongly impacts primary productivity, higher trophic components of the food web, and humans. Measurements of the incident irradiance at 305, 320, 340 and 380 nm and of the photosynthetically active radiation were made from April through September 1998 as part of the SHEBA (Surface Heat Budget of the Arctic Ocean program) field experiment in the Arctic Ocean. In addition, observations of snow depth and ice thickness were made at more than 100 sites encompassing a comprehensive range of conditions. The thickness observations were combined with a radiative transfer model to compute a time series of the ultraviolet light transmitted by the ice cover from April through September. Peak values of incident ultraviolet irradiance occurred in mid-June. Peak transmittance was later in the summer at the end of the melt season when the snow cover had completely melted, the ice had thinned and pond coverage was extensive. The fraction of the incident ultraviolet irradiance transmitted through the ice increased by several orders of magnitude as the melt season progressed. Ultraviolet transmittance was approximately a factor of ten greater for melt ponds than bare ice. Climate change has the potential to alter the amplitude and timing of the annual albedo cycle of sea ice. If the onset of melt occurs at increasingly earlier dates, ultraviolet transmittance will be significantly enhanced, with potentially deleterious biological impacts.

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References

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