Influence of snow depth and surface flooding on light transmission through Antarctic pack ice

Stefanie.Arndt [ at ]


Snow on sea ice plays a crucial role for interactions between the ocean and atmosphere within the climate system of polar regions. Antarctic sea ice is covered with snow during most of the year. The snow contributes substantially to the sea-ice mass budget as the heavy snow loads can depress the ice below water level causing flooding. Refreezing of the snow and seawater mixture results in snow-ice formation on the ice surface. The snow cover determines also the amount of light being reflected, absorbed, and transmitted into the upper ocean, determining the surface energy budget of ice-covered oceans. The amount of light penetrating through sea ice into the upper ocean is of critical importance for the timing and amount of bottom sea-ice melt, biogeochemical processes and under-ice ecosystems. Here, we present results of several recent observations in the Weddell Sea measuring solar radiation under Antarctic sea ice with instrumented Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROV). The combination of under-ice optical measurements with simultaneous characterization of surface properties, such as sea-ice thickness and snow depth, allows the identification of key processes controlling the spatial distribution of the under-ice light. Thus, our results show how the distinction between flooded and non-flooded sea-ice regimes dominates the spatial scales of under-ice light variability for areas smaller than 100m-by-100m. In contrast, the variability on larger scales seems to be controlled by the floe-size distribution and the associated lateral incidence of light. These results are related to recent studies on the spatial variability of Arctic under-ice light fields focusing on the distinctly differing dominant surface properties between the northern (e.g. summer melt ponds) and southern (e.g. year-round snow cover, surface flooding) hemisphere sea-ice cover.

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Conference (Poster)
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AGU Fall meeting, 12 Dec 2016 - 16 Dec 2016, San Francisco, CA, USA.
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Arndt, S. , Meiners, K. M. , Ricker, R. , Krumpen, T. , Katlein, C. and Nicolaus, M. (2016): Influence of snow depth and surface flooding on light transmission through Antarctic pack ice , AGU Fall meeting, San Francisco, CA, USA, 12 December 2016 - 16 December 2016 .

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ANT > XXIX > 7

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