Articles | Volume 7, issue 3
Research article
02 May 2013
Research article |  | 02 May 2013

Mapping radiation transfer through sea ice using a remotely operated vehicle (ROV)

M. Nicolaus and C. Katlein

Abstract. Transmission of sunlight into and through sea ice is of critical importance for sea-ice associated organisms and photosynthesis because light is their primary energy source. The amount of visible light transferred through sea ice contributes to the energy budget of the sea ice and the uppermost ocean. However, our current knowledge on the amount and distribution of light under sea ice is still restricted to a few local observations, and our understanding of light-driven processes and interdisciplinary interactions is still sparse. The main reasons are that the under-ice environment is difficult to access and that measurements require large logistical and instrumental efforts. Hence, it has not been possible to map light conditions under sea ice over larger areas and to quantify spatial variability on different scales. Here we present a detailed methodological description for operating spectral radiometers on a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) under sea ice. Recent advances in ROV and radiation-sensor technology have allowed us to map under-ice spectral radiance and irradiance on floe scales within a few hours of station time. The ROV was operated directly from the sea ice, allowing for direct relations of optical properties to other sea-ice and surface features. The ROV was flown close to the sea ice in order to capture small-scale variability. Results from the presented data set and similar future studies will allow for better quantification of light conditions under sea ice. The presented experiences will support further developments in order to gather large data sets of under-ice radiation for different ice conditions and during different seasons.