Under-Ice Light Field in the Western Arctic Ocean During Late Summer

Michael.Karcher [ at ] awi.de


The Arctic is no longer a region dominated by thick multi-year ice (MYI), but by thinner, more dynamic, first-year-ice (FYI). This shift towards a seasonal ice cover has consequences for the under-ice light field, as sea-ice and its snow cover are a major factor influencing radiative transfer and thus, biological activity within- and under the ice. This work describes in situ measurements of light transmission through different types of sea-ice (MYI and FYI) performed during two expeditions to the Chukchi sea in August 2018 and 2019, as well as a simple characterisation of the biological state of the ice microbial system. Our analysis shows that, in late summer, two different states of FYI exist in this region: 1) FYI in an enhanced state of decay, and 2) robust FYI, more likely to survive the melt season. The two FYI types have different average ice thicknesses: 0.74 ± 0.07 m (N = 9) and 0.93 ± 0.11m (N = 9), different average values of transmittance: 0.15 ± 0.04 compared to 0.09 ± 0.02, and different ice extinction coefficients: 1.49 ± 0.28 and 1.12 ± 0.19 m -1. The measurements performed over MYI present different characteristics with a higher average ice thickness of 1.56 ± 0.12 m, lower transmittance (0.05 ± 0.01) with ice extinction coefficients of 1.24 ± 0.26 m-1 (N = 12). All ice types show consistently low salinity, chlorophyll a concentrations and nutrients, which may be linked to the timing of the measurements and the flushing of melt-water through the ice. With continued Arctic warming, the summer ice will continue to retreat, and the decayed variant of FYI, with a higher scattering of light, but a reduced thickness, leading to an overall higher light transmittance, may become a more relevant ice type. Our results suggest that in this scenario, more light would reach the ice interior and the upper-ocean.

Item Type
Primary Division
Primary Topic
Helmholtz Cross Cutting Activity (2021-2027)
Peer revision
Peer-reviewed, Web of Science / Scopus
Publication Status
Eprint ID
DOI 10.3389/feart.2021.643737

Cite as
Veyssière, G. , Castellani, G. , Wilkinson, J. , Karcher, M. , Hayward, A. , Stroeve, J. C. , Nicolaus, M. , Kim, J. H. , Yang, E. J. , Valcic, L. , Kauker, F. , Khan, A. L. , Rogers, I. and Jung, J. (2022): Under-Ice Light Field in the Western Arctic Ocean During Late Summer , Frontiers in Earth Science, 9 . doi: 10.3389/feart.2021.643737



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