Measurements of light transmission and reflection were carried out on first-year sea ice near Point Barrow, Alaska, and on multi-year ice near Fletcher’s Ice Island in the Beaufort Sea (lat. 84° N., long. 77°W.). Spectral albedos (400-1 000 nm) and extinction coefficients (400-800 nm) were determined for melt ponds, snow, and various types of bare ice. Albedos were largest in the 400-600 nm range, decreasing toward longer wavelengths at a rate which appeared to be related to the liquid-water content of the near-surface layers. Extinction coefficients remained nearly constant between 400 and 550 nm, but increased rapidly above 600 nm. At 500 nm, albedos ranged from 0.25 over mature melt ponds to 0.93 over dense dry snow, while the corresponding extinction coefficients ranged from 0.6 to 16 m-1. Intensity profiles taken in the upper 50 cm of the ice indicated that the extinction coefficient at a particular wavelength was nearly constant with depth below 15 cm, although the bulk extinction coefficient decreased with depth because of the strong attenuation in the red. Near the surface it was found that multi-year ice absorbed slightly more energy than did first-year blue ice, but at depths below 10 cm the flux divergence in the first-year ice was three to four times larger than that in the multi-year ice. A simple procedure is described for estimating light transmission and absorption within the ice under clear or cloudy skies from total flux measurements at the surface. Methods by which satellite data could be used to estimate regional albedos, melt-pond fraction, and lead area are also presented.