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The interaction of ultraviolet light with Arctic sea ice during SHEBA

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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.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3189/172756406781811330

Publication date: November 1, 2006

More about this publication?
  • The Annals of Glaciology is a peer-reviewed, thematic journal published 2 to 4 times a year by the International Glaciological Society (IGS). Publication frequency is determined and volume/issue numbers assigned by the IGS Council on a year-to-year basis and with a lead time of 3 to 4 years. The Annals of Glaciology is included in the ISI Science Citation Index from volume 50, number 50 onwards.

    Themes can be on any aspect of the study of snow and ice. Individual members can make a suggestion for a theme for an Annals issue to the Secretary General, who will forward it to the IGS Publications Committee. The IGS Publication Committee will make a recommendation for an individual themed Annals issue, together with a potential Annals Chief Editor for that issue, to IGS Council. The IGS Council will make the decision whether to proceed, taking into account the spread of topics and the overall capacity for publication of pages in Annals.

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