First direct sampling of light within sea ice

First in-situ measurements of light profiles within sea ice is the core of this master thesis. A unique, newly developed instrument will be used that allows for the measurement of photosynthetically active radiation at very high spatial and temporal resolution within sea ice.

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Project type

  • field work
  • long-term monitoring
  • arctic field grant (afg)


  • atmosphere
  • cryosphere
  • oceanography

Project Keywords

  • cryosphere / sea ice / ice depth/thickness
  • cryosphere / sea ice / ice types
  • oceans / ocean optics / attenuation/transmission
  • oceans / ocean optics / photosynthetically active radiation

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Despite this importance of light penetration through sea ice, many of its key characteristics are not well understood yet. This is in part related to the lack of instrumentation that would allow to measure the light penetrating into and through the sea ice at high spatial and temporal resolution. Such measurements will allow to better understand the interaction of light, microorganisms and sea ice, which are a key aspect for understanding the future evolution of the ecology related to a quickly retreating sea-ice cover. This shortcoming is addressed by this master thesis, during which a unique, newly developed instrument will be used that allows for the first time to measure light within sea ice in situ, at a vertical resolution of 2 cm. The instrument will be used and tested in a laboratory setting at the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology’s sea-ice tank throughout autumn 2015, and is then used under natural field conditions in Van Mijenfjorden in spring 2016. There, the Norway-Funded FAABulous project investigates in spring 2016 throughout an entire growth and melt season the impact of sea-ice evolution on algae communities. Expected insights gained from these measurements will allow to understand in more detail the transition of light through sea ice. In addition, the measurements will use and contribute to the measurements carried out within the FAABulous project, which allows both project partners for a more in-depth interpretation of individual measurements.

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