Interactions Between Ice Thickness, Bottom Ice Algae, and Transmitted Spectral Irradiance in the Chukchi Sea

Wednesday, 16 December 2015: 08:30
3005 (Moscone West)
Alexandra E Arntsen, Dartmouth College, Thayer School of Engineering, Hanover, NH, United States
The amount of light that penetrates the Arctic sea ice cover impacts sea-ice mass balance as well as ecological processes in the upper ocean. The seasonally evolving macro and micro spatial variability of transmitted spectral irradiance observed in the Chukchi Sea from May 18 to June 17, 2014 can be primarily attributed to variations in snow depth, ice thickness, and bottom ice algae concentrations. This study characterizes the interactions among these dominant variables using observed optical properties at each sampling site. We employ a normalized difference index to compute estimates of Chlorophyll a concentrations and analyze the increased attenuation of incident irradiance due to absorption by biomass. On a kilometer spatial scale, the presence of bottom ice algae reduced the maximum transmitted irradiance by about 1.5 orders of magnitude when comparing floes of similar snow and ice thicknesses. On a meter spatial scale, the combined effects of disparities in the depth and distribution of the overlying snow cover along with algae concentrations caused maximum transmittances to vary between 0.0577 and 0.282 at a single site. Temporal variability was also observed as the average integrated transmitted photosynthetically active radiation increased by one order of magnitude to 3.4% for the last eight measurement days compared to the first nine. Results provide insight on how interrelated physical and ecological parameters of sea ice in varying time and space may impact new trends in Arctic sea ice extent and the progression of melt.