Reflection and transmission of irradiance by snow and sea ice in the central Arctic Ocean in summer 2010

  • Ruibo Lei
  • Zhanhai Zhang
  • Ilkka Matero
  • Bin Cheng
  • Qun Li
  • Wenfeng Huang
Keywords: sea ice, snow, solar irradiance, reflection, transmission, Arctic


Reflection and transmission of irradiance by the combined snow and sea ice layer were measured at an ice camp (ca. 10 days) and several short-term stations (ca. 2 h) established in the western sector of the Arctic Ocean above 80°N during the 2010 summer. These measurements were made with an intention to quantify the apparent optical properties of snow and sea ice, and to evaluate their roles in the mass balance of snow-covered sea ice in the High Arctic. The integrated 350–920 nm albedo ranged from 0.54 to 0.88, and was primarily dependent on the geophysical properties of snow, but not those of sea ice. This implies that all snow cover was still optically thick, even though snow melting had commenced at all measurement sites. For sea ice about 1.66 m thick and covered by 2.5–8.5 cm of snow at the ice camp, the integrated 350–920 nm transmittance ranged from 0.017 to 0.065. Rapid snow melting resulting from an event of slight drizzle doubled the available solar irradiance under the ice (from ca. 3.6 toca. 7.2 W·m–2), which further accelerated ice-bottom decay. During the measurement at the camp, the temporally averaged incident solar irradiance at 320–950 nm was 110.6 ± 33.6 W·m–2, 29.2 ± 2.9% of which was absorbed by snow and sea ice and utilized to melt snow and sea ice. The melting of snow and sea ice had a distinctly greater effect on the spectral reflection and transmission for the near-infrared spectrum than for the ultraviolet and visible spectra.

Keywords: Sea ice; snow; solar irradiance; reflection; transmission; Arctic

(Published: 30 March 2012)

Citation: Polar Research 2012, 31, 17325, DOI: 10.3402/polar.v31i0.17325


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How to Cite
Lei, R., Zhang, Z., Matero, I., Cheng, B., Li, Q., & Huang, W. (2012). Reflection and transmission of irradiance by snow and sea ice in the central Arctic Ocean in summer 2010. Polar Research, 31.
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