The snow/ice albedo was studied during a 4 week field experiment over first-year sea ice in the Gulf of Bothnia, Baltic Sea, in spring 2004. Observations were made on radiative fluxes, cloud cover, wind, air temperature and humidity, as well as snow/ice temperature, thickness, density and grain size. The albedo variation during the observation period was large: the daily mean albedo ranged from 0.79 over a new snow cover to 0.30 over bare, melting ice. The evolution of the albedo was related to the surface properties, but existing parameterizations based on Arctic data did not explain the observations well. The snow thickness was found to be the most critical factor affecting the albedo. A new parameterization was derived for the albedo dependence on snow thickness, to be applied over the Baltic Sea in spring, when periods of melting and freezing alternate but the ice is still relatively thick (about 0.6 m). The diurnal cycle of solar radiation was large, and the snow/ice metamorphism due to the melting during daylight and refreezing during the night caused a diurnal albedo cycle with a maximum in the early morning and a minimum in the afternoon, with an albedo difference up to 0.14 between the two.