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Solar Transmittance in the Arctic as a Seasonally Ice-covered Sea: Examining changes in the impacts of sunlight due to a thinner Arctic ice cover, and a look ahead (July 2013 – June 2017)

Main objectives of the project

Observe the solar radiation components (incident, reflected, and transmitted) above and below first-year sea ice in the high Arctic using AFfordable Arctic Radiation (AFAR) drifters, autonomous platforms with real-time data transfer, and with mobile platforms that allow us to observe the very large spatial and temporal variability of the partitioning of solar radiation.

Use these and previous observations to better understand the features and processes that most strongly influence the transmission of solar radiation through the younger, thinner sea ice that now dominates the Arctic Basin, with the aim of improving the representation of these processes in large-scale climate and Earth system models.

Combine the observational data and a sophisticated radiative transfer model of the atmosphere-snow-ice-ocean system to perform a pan-Arctic analysis of the changes in solar energy fluxes reaching the Arctic Ocean that have already occurred and that will likely occur in the future.

Evaluate surface solar fluxes over the Arctic Ocean in reanalysis datasets, which are widely used in this data-sparse region.

Project partners

Stephen Hudson, Mats Granskog and Sebastian Gerland, Norwegian Polar Institute

Jakob J. Stamnes and Børge Hamre, Department of Physics and Technology, University of Bergen

Knut Stamnes, Stevens Institute of Technology, Hoboken, New Jersey, USA

Chris Polashenski, Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory, Fairbanks, Alaska, USA

Don Perovich, Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory, Hanover, New Hampshire, USA

Hajo Eicken, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks, Alaska, USA

Jens Ehn, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

Marcel Nicolaus, Alfred Wegener Institute, Bremerhaven, Germany

Li Zhijun, Dalian University of Technology, Dalian, China


This project formally begins in summer 2013, when we will hire a postdoctoral researcher at NPI to begin working on development and then deployment of the AFAR drifters. In 2014 we will hire a PhD student, jointly with the University of Bergen, to work with the postdoc on analysis of the AFAR data and field data, and to carry out additional modelling and validation work. Updates on specific activities will be posted here throughout the project.