Seasonality of spectral albedo and transmittance as observed in the Arctic Transpolar Drift in 2007

© V.Hilaire/Fonds Tara

Tara Arctic

By Marcel Nicolaus (1,2), Sebastian Gerland (1), Stephen R. Hudson (1), Susanne Hanson (3), Jari Haapala (4), and Donald K. Perovich (5)

Received 21 December 2009; revised 25 May 2010; accepted 11 June 2010; published 16 November 2010.

1. Norwegian Polar Institute, Tromsø, Norway.
2. Now at Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research,
Bremerhaven, Germany.
3. Danish Meteorological Institute, Copenhagen, Denmark.
4. Finnish Meteorological Institute, Helsinki, Finland.
5. Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory, Hanover, New
Hampshire, USA.
Couv publication Arctic


[1] The first continuous and high temporal resolution record of spectral albedo and transmittance of snow and sea ice in the Arctic Ocean over an entire summer season is presented. Measurements were performed at a manned station on multiyear sea ice in the Transpolar Drift during the drift of the schooner Tara from April to September 2007. Concurrent autonomous measurements of ice mass balance and weekly observations of snow and sea-ice properties complement the data set. The seasonality of physical and biological processes of snow and sea ice is characterized, including quantification of melt onset (10 June), melt season duration, and freeze onset (15 August). Over one year, approximately two thirds of the transmitted energy reached the ocean during the 66-day-long melt season. During the second half of July, transmitted irradiance decreased by 90% and absorption in and directly under the ice increased, significantly affecting the vertical partitioning of irradiance. The spectral radiation time series suggests that high biomass abundance in or below the sea ice caused this decrease. Comparing the spectral data set with broadband albedo data measured at the same location shows that 90% of the temporal variability of broadband albedo can be explained by variability in spectral albedo integrated over the limited wavelength range. The combination of spectral radiation and ice mass balance measurements allows a comprehensive description, and quantification, of snow and sea-ice processes, even with minimal additional in situ observations, suggesting such data sets can be collected autonomously to provide insight into the physical and biological processes on sea ice.