The Underwater Light Climate in Kongsfjorden and Its Ecological Implications

  • Alexey K. Pavlov
  • Eva Leu
  • Dieter Hanelt
  • Inka Bartsch
  • Ulf Karsten
  • Stephen R. Hudson
  • Jean-Charles Gallet
  • Finlo Cottier
  • Jonathan H. Cohen
  • Jørgen Berge
  • Geir Johnsen
  • Marion Maturilli
  • Piotr Kowalczuk
  • Sławomir Sagan
  • Justyna Meler
  • Mats A. Granskog
Part of the Advances in Polar Ecology book series (AVPE, volume 2)


Due to its Arctic location at 79°N, Kongsfjorden in Svalbard experiences strong seasonality in light climate, changing from polar night to midnight sun. Sea ice conditions and the optical properties of seawater further modify the amount and the spectral composition of solar radiation penetrating into the water column, thus defining the underwater light climate in Kongsfjorden. Light represents one of the major shaping factors for the entire marine ecosystem. A number of studies focusing on implications of the underwater light for marine organisms have been conducted in Kongsfjorden, generating diverse datasets on seawater optical properties, scattered over time and space. This review synthesizes the fragmentary information available from the literature as well as presenting some unpublished data, and discusses the underwater light climate and its main controlling factors in Kongsfjorden. Furthermore, we provide a short synopsis about the relevance of light for different components of an Arctic marine ecosystem, exemplified by studies carried out in Kongsfjorden. Due to its year-round accessibility and its high-Arctic location, Kongsfjorden has become a prime fjord for studying how the strong seasonal changes in light availability, ranging from polar night to midnight sun, affect marine life with respect to primary production, behavioural aspects and synchronization of growth and reproduction.


Arctic Svalbard PAR UVR Optical properties Marine ecosystem 



We thank organizers of the Kongsfjorden Ecosystem Workshop (Hamn i Senja, March 2014) for the initiation of this review study. For AP, PK, JM, SH, SS and MAG, this work was partly supported by the Polish–Norwegian Research Programme operated by the National Centre for Research and Development under the Norwegian Financial Mechanism 2009–2014 in the framework of Project Contract Pol-Nor/197511/40/2013, CDOM-HEAT; and for AP, SH and MAG by the Research Council of Norway through the STASIS project (221961/F20). UK gratefully acknowledges financial support through the project KA 899/15-1/2/3 in the framework of the DFG (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft) Priority Programme 1158 “Antarctic Research”. SS was supported by the Norwegian Financial Mechanism, project ALKEKONGE, PNRF-234-AI-1/07. We thank Oddveig Øien Ørvoll and Anders Skoglund at the Mapping section of the Norwegian Polar Institute for preparing the map of Kongsfjorden (Fig. 5.1). We thank Colin Griffiths for Kongsfjorden mooring work, funded by UK Natural Environment Research Council and the Research Council of Norway Projects Circa (214271) and Cleopatra (178766). We also thank three anonymous reviewers for constructive feedback that helped to improve this work.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alexey K. Pavlov
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Eva Leu
    • 3
  • Dieter Hanelt
    • 4
  • Inka Bartsch
    • 5
  • Ulf Karsten
    • 6
  • Stephen R. Hudson
    • 1
  • Jean-Charles Gallet
    • 1
  • Finlo Cottier
    • 7
    • 8
  • Jonathan H. Cohen
    • 9
  • Jørgen Berge
    • 10
    • 11
    • 12
  • Geir Johnsen
    • 11
    • 13
  • Marion Maturilli
    • 14
  • Piotr Kowalczuk
    • 2
  • Sławomir Sagan
    • 2
  • Justyna Meler
    • 2
  • Mats A. Granskog
    • 1
  1. 1.Norwegian Polar Institute, Fram CentreTromsøNorway
  2. 2.Institute of Oceanology, Polish Academy of SciencesSopotPoland
  3. 3.Akvaplan-niva A/S, Fram CentreTromsøNorway
  4. 4.Aquatic Ecophysiology and PhycologyUniversity of HamburgHamburgGermany
  5. 5.Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine ResearchBremerhavenGermany
  6. 6.Institute of Biological Sciences, Applied Ecology and PhycologyUniversity of RostockRostockGermany
  7. 7.Scottish Association for Marine ScienceScottish Oceans InstituteObanUK
  8. 8.Department of Arctic and Marine Biology, Faculty of Biosciences, Fisheries and EconomicsUiT The Arctic University of NorwayTromsøNorway
  9. 9.School of Marine Science and Policy, University of DelawareDelawareUSA
  10. 10.Department of Arctic and Marine Biology, Faculty of Biosciences, Fisheries and EconomicsUiT The Arctic University of NorwayTromsøNorway
  11. 11.The University Centre in SvalbardLongyearbyenNorway
  12. 12.Centre for Autonomous Marine Operations and SystemsDepartment of Biology, Norwegian University of Science and TechnologyTrondheimNorway
  13. 13.Department of Biology and Marine TechnologyNorwegian University of Science and TechnologyTrondheimNorway
  14. 14.Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine ResearchPotsdamGermany

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