Underwater light environment in Arctic fjords
Abstract. Most inhabitants of the Arctic live near the coastline, including fjord systems where socio-ecological coupling with coastal communities is dominant. It is therefore critically important that the key aspects of Arctic fjords be measured as well as possible. Much work has been done to monitor temperature and salinity, but an in-depth knowledge of the light environment throughout Arctic fjords is lacking. This is particularly problematic knowing the importance of light for benthic ecosystem engineers such as macroalgae, which also play a major role in ecosystem function. Here we document the creation and implementation of a high resolution (~50–150 m) gridded dataset for surface photosynthetically available radiation (PAR), diffuse attenuation of PAR through the water column (KPAR), and PAR available at the seafloor (bottom PAR) for seven Arctic fjords distributed throughout Svalbard, Greenland, and Norway, during the period 2003–2022. In addition to bottom PAR being available at a monthly resolution over this time period, all variables are available as a global average, annual averages, and monthly climatologies. Throughout most Arctic fjords, the interannual variability of monthly bottom PAR is too large to determine any long term trends. However, in some fjords, bottom PAR has increased in spring and autumn, and decreased in summer. While a full investigation into these causes is beyond the scope of the description of the dataset presented here, it is hypothesised that this shift is due to a decrease in seasonal ice cover (i.e. enhanced surface PAR) in the shoulder seasons, and an increase in coastal runoff (i.e. increased turbidity/decreased surface PAR) in summer. A demonstration of the usability of the dataset is given by showing how it can be combined with known PAR requirements of macroalgae to track the change in time of the potential distribution area for macroalgal habitats within fjords.
The dataset (Gentili et al., 2023a) is available on PANGAEA at: https://doi.org/10.1594/PANGAEA.962895. A toolbox for download and working with this dataset is available in the form of the FjordLight R package, which is available via CRAN (Gentili et al., 2023b), or may be installed via GitHub: https://face-it-project.github.io/FjordLight (last access: 8 December 2023).
Status: open (until 05 Apr 2024)
FjordLight: PAR data for Arctic fjords https://doi.org/10.1594/PANGAEA.962895
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