Abstract

The foggy sky above a white ice-cover and a dark water surface (permanent polynya or temporary lead) is white and dark gray, phenomena called the “ice-sky” and the “water-sky,” respectively. Captains of icebreaker ships used to search for not-directly-visible open waters remotely on the basis of the water sky. Animals depending on open waters in the Arctic region may also detect not-directly-visible waters from a distance by means of the water sky. Since the polarization of ice-skies and water-skies has not, to our knowledge, been studied before, we measured the polarization patterns of water-skies above polynyas in the arctic ice-cover during the Beringia 2005 Swedish polar research expedition to the North Pole region. We show that there are statistically significant differences in the angle of polarization between the water-sky and the ice-sky. This polarization phenomenon could help biological and man-made sensors to detect open waters not directly visible from a distance. However, the threshold of polarization-based detection would be rather low, because the degree of linear polarization of light radiated by water-skies and ice-skies is not higher than 10%.

© 2006 Optical Society of America

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  1. I. Stirling, 'The biological importance of polynyas in the Canadian Arctic,' Arctic 33, 303-315 (1980).
  2. I.Stirling and H.Cleator (eds.), 'Polynyas in the Canadian Arctic,' Occas. Pap. Can. Wildl. Serv. 45, 1-70 (1981).
  3. I. Stirling, 'The importance of polynyas, ice edges, and leads to marine mammals and birds,' J. Mar. Syst. 10, 9-21 (1997).
    [CrossRef]
  4. A. Ancel, G. L. Kooyman, P. J. Ponganis, J. P. Gendner, J. Lignon, X. Mestre, N. Huin, P. H. Thorson, P. Robisson, and Y. Le Maho, 'Foraging behaviour of emperor penguins as a resource detector in winter and summer,' Nature 360, 336-339 (1992).
    [CrossRef]
  5. M. Tilzer, 125 Jahre Deutsche Polarforschung (2nd edition, Alfred-Wegener-Institut für Polar- und Meeresforschung, Bremerhaven, Germany, 1994).
  6. C. P. McRoy and J. J. Goering, 'Annual budget of primary production in the Bearing Sea,' Mar. Sci. Comm. 2, 255-267 (1976).
  7. R. G. B. Brown and D. N. Nettleship, 'The biological significance of polynyas to arctic colonial seabirds,' in I. Stirling and H. Cleator (eds.), Polynyas in the Canadian Arctic. Can. Wildl. Serv. Occas. Pap. 45, 59-65 (1981).
  8. H. J. Hirche, M. E. M. Baumann, G. Kattner, and R. Gradinger, 'Plankton distribution and the impact of copepod grazing on primary production in Fram Strait, Greenland Sea,' J. Mar. Syst. 2, 477-494 (1991).
    [CrossRef]
  9. I. Stirling, D. Andriashek, and W. Calvert, 'Habitat preferences of polar bears in the Western Canadian Arctic in late winter and spring,' Pol. Res. 29, 13-24 (1993).
  10. K. Born, Ø. Wiig, and J. Thomassen, 'Seasonal and annual movements of radio-collared polar bears (Ursus maritimus) in northeast Greenland,' J. Mar. Syst. 10, 67-77 (1997).
    [CrossRef]
  11. G. Horváth, and D. Varjú, Polarized Light in Animal Vision--Polarization Patterns in Nature (Springer-Verlag, 2003).
  12. J. Gál, G. Horváth, V. B. Meyer-Rochow, and R. Wehner, 'Polarization patterns of the summer sky and its neutral points measured by full-sky imaging polarimetry in Finnish Lapland north of the Arctic Circle,' Proc. R. Soc. London, Ser. A 457, 1385-1399 (2001).
    [CrossRef]

2001 (1)

J. Gál, G. Horváth, V. B. Meyer-Rochow, and R. Wehner, 'Polarization patterns of the summer sky and its neutral points measured by full-sky imaging polarimetry in Finnish Lapland north of the Arctic Circle,' Proc. R. Soc. London, Ser. A 457, 1385-1399 (2001).
[CrossRef]

1997 (2)

K. Born, Ø. Wiig, and J. Thomassen, 'Seasonal and annual movements of radio-collared polar bears (Ursus maritimus) in northeast Greenland,' J. Mar. Syst. 10, 67-77 (1997).
[CrossRef]

I. Stirling, 'The importance of polynyas, ice edges, and leads to marine mammals and birds,' J. Mar. Syst. 10, 9-21 (1997).
[CrossRef]

1993 (1)

I. Stirling, D. Andriashek, and W. Calvert, 'Habitat preferences of polar bears in the Western Canadian Arctic in late winter and spring,' Pol. Res. 29, 13-24 (1993).

1992 (1)

A. Ancel, G. L. Kooyman, P. J. Ponganis, J. P. Gendner, J. Lignon, X. Mestre, N. Huin, P. H. Thorson, P. Robisson, and Y. Le Maho, 'Foraging behaviour of emperor penguins as a resource detector in winter and summer,' Nature 360, 336-339 (1992).
[CrossRef]

1991 (1)

H. J. Hirche, M. E. M. Baumann, G. Kattner, and R. Gradinger, 'Plankton distribution and the impact of copepod grazing on primary production in Fram Strait, Greenland Sea,' J. Mar. Syst. 2, 477-494 (1991).
[CrossRef]

1980 (1)

I. Stirling, 'The biological importance of polynyas in the Canadian Arctic,' Arctic 33, 303-315 (1980).

1976 (1)

C. P. McRoy and J. J. Goering, 'Annual budget of primary production in the Bearing Sea,' Mar. Sci. Comm. 2, 255-267 (1976).

Ancel, A.

A. Ancel, G. L. Kooyman, P. J. Ponganis, J. P. Gendner, J. Lignon, X. Mestre, N. Huin, P. H. Thorson, P. Robisson, and Y. Le Maho, 'Foraging behaviour of emperor penguins as a resource detector in winter and summer,' Nature 360, 336-339 (1992).
[CrossRef]

Andriashek, D.

I. Stirling, D. Andriashek, and W. Calvert, 'Habitat preferences of polar bears in the Western Canadian Arctic in late winter and spring,' Pol. Res. 29, 13-24 (1993).

Baumann, M. E. M.

H. J. Hirche, M. E. M. Baumann, G. Kattner, and R. Gradinger, 'Plankton distribution and the impact of copepod grazing on primary production in Fram Strait, Greenland Sea,' J. Mar. Syst. 2, 477-494 (1991).
[CrossRef]

Born, K.

K. Born, Ø. Wiig, and J. Thomassen, 'Seasonal and annual movements of radio-collared polar bears (Ursus maritimus) in northeast Greenland,' J. Mar. Syst. 10, 67-77 (1997).
[CrossRef]

Brown, R. G. B.

R. G. B. Brown and D. N. Nettleship, 'The biological significance of polynyas to arctic colonial seabirds,' in I. Stirling and H. Cleator (eds.), Polynyas in the Canadian Arctic. Can. Wildl. Serv. Occas. Pap. 45, 59-65 (1981).

Calvert, W.

I. Stirling, D. Andriashek, and W. Calvert, 'Habitat preferences of polar bears in the Western Canadian Arctic in late winter and spring,' Pol. Res. 29, 13-24 (1993).

Gál, J.

J. Gál, G. Horváth, V. B. Meyer-Rochow, and R. Wehner, 'Polarization patterns of the summer sky and its neutral points measured by full-sky imaging polarimetry in Finnish Lapland north of the Arctic Circle,' Proc. R. Soc. London, Ser. A 457, 1385-1399 (2001).
[CrossRef]

Gendner, J. P.

A. Ancel, G. L. Kooyman, P. J. Ponganis, J. P. Gendner, J. Lignon, X. Mestre, N. Huin, P. H. Thorson, P. Robisson, and Y. Le Maho, 'Foraging behaviour of emperor penguins as a resource detector in winter and summer,' Nature 360, 336-339 (1992).
[CrossRef]

Goering, J. J.

C. P. McRoy and J. J. Goering, 'Annual budget of primary production in the Bearing Sea,' Mar. Sci. Comm. 2, 255-267 (1976).

Gradinger, R.

H. J. Hirche, M. E. M. Baumann, G. Kattner, and R. Gradinger, 'Plankton distribution and the impact of copepod grazing on primary production in Fram Strait, Greenland Sea,' J. Mar. Syst. 2, 477-494 (1991).
[CrossRef]

Hirche, H. J.

H. J. Hirche, M. E. M. Baumann, G. Kattner, and R. Gradinger, 'Plankton distribution and the impact of copepod grazing on primary production in Fram Strait, Greenland Sea,' J. Mar. Syst. 2, 477-494 (1991).
[CrossRef]

Horváth, G.

J. Gál, G. Horváth, V. B. Meyer-Rochow, and R. Wehner, 'Polarization patterns of the summer sky and its neutral points measured by full-sky imaging polarimetry in Finnish Lapland north of the Arctic Circle,' Proc. R. Soc. London, Ser. A 457, 1385-1399 (2001).
[CrossRef]

G. Horváth, and D. Varjú, Polarized Light in Animal Vision--Polarization Patterns in Nature (Springer-Verlag, 2003).

Huin, N.

A. Ancel, G. L. Kooyman, P. J. Ponganis, J. P. Gendner, J. Lignon, X. Mestre, N. Huin, P. H. Thorson, P. Robisson, and Y. Le Maho, 'Foraging behaviour of emperor penguins as a resource detector in winter and summer,' Nature 360, 336-339 (1992).
[CrossRef]

Kattner, G.

H. J. Hirche, M. E. M. Baumann, G. Kattner, and R. Gradinger, 'Plankton distribution and the impact of copepod grazing on primary production in Fram Strait, Greenland Sea,' J. Mar. Syst. 2, 477-494 (1991).
[CrossRef]

Kooyman, G. L.

A. Ancel, G. L. Kooyman, P. J. Ponganis, J. P. Gendner, J. Lignon, X. Mestre, N. Huin, P. H. Thorson, P. Robisson, and Y. Le Maho, 'Foraging behaviour of emperor penguins as a resource detector in winter and summer,' Nature 360, 336-339 (1992).
[CrossRef]

Le Maho, Y.

A. Ancel, G. L. Kooyman, P. J. Ponganis, J. P. Gendner, J. Lignon, X. Mestre, N. Huin, P. H. Thorson, P. Robisson, and Y. Le Maho, 'Foraging behaviour of emperor penguins as a resource detector in winter and summer,' Nature 360, 336-339 (1992).
[CrossRef]

Lignon, J.

A. Ancel, G. L. Kooyman, P. J. Ponganis, J. P. Gendner, J. Lignon, X. Mestre, N. Huin, P. H. Thorson, P. Robisson, and Y. Le Maho, 'Foraging behaviour of emperor penguins as a resource detector in winter and summer,' Nature 360, 336-339 (1992).
[CrossRef]

McRoy, C. P.

C. P. McRoy and J. J. Goering, 'Annual budget of primary production in the Bearing Sea,' Mar. Sci. Comm. 2, 255-267 (1976).

Mestre, X.

A. Ancel, G. L. Kooyman, P. J. Ponganis, J. P. Gendner, J. Lignon, X. Mestre, N. Huin, P. H. Thorson, P. Robisson, and Y. Le Maho, 'Foraging behaviour of emperor penguins as a resource detector in winter and summer,' Nature 360, 336-339 (1992).
[CrossRef]

Meyer-Rochow, V. B.

J. Gál, G. Horváth, V. B. Meyer-Rochow, and R. Wehner, 'Polarization patterns of the summer sky and its neutral points measured by full-sky imaging polarimetry in Finnish Lapland north of the Arctic Circle,' Proc. R. Soc. London, Ser. A 457, 1385-1399 (2001).
[CrossRef]

Nettleship, D. N.

R. G. B. Brown and D. N. Nettleship, 'The biological significance of polynyas to arctic colonial seabirds,' in I. Stirling and H. Cleator (eds.), Polynyas in the Canadian Arctic. Can. Wildl. Serv. Occas. Pap. 45, 59-65 (1981).

Ponganis, P. J.

A. Ancel, G. L. Kooyman, P. J. Ponganis, J. P. Gendner, J. Lignon, X. Mestre, N. Huin, P. H. Thorson, P. Robisson, and Y. Le Maho, 'Foraging behaviour of emperor penguins as a resource detector in winter and summer,' Nature 360, 336-339 (1992).
[CrossRef]

Robisson, P.

A. Ancel, G. L. Kooyman, P. J. Ponganis, J. P. Gendner, J. Lignon, X. Mestre, N. Huin, P. H. Thorson, P. Robisson, and Y. Le Maho, 'Foraging behaviour of emperor penguins as a resource detector in winter and summer,' Nature 360, 336-339 (1992).
[CrossRef]

Stirling, I.

I. Stirling, 'The importance of polynyas, ice edges, and leads to marine mammals and birds,' J. Mar. Syst. 10, 9-21 (1997).
[CrossRef]

I. Stirling, D. Andriashek, and W. Calvert, 'Habitat preferences of polar bears in the Western Canadian Arctic in late winter and spring,' Pol. Res. 29, 13-24 (1993).

I. Stirling, 'The biological importance of polynyas in the Canadian Arctic,' Arctic 33, 303-315 (1980).

Thomassen, J.

K. Born, Ø. Wiig, and J. Thomassen, 'Seasonal and annual movements of radio-collared polar bears (Ursus maritimus) in northeast Greenland,' J. Mar. Syst. 10, 67-77 (1997).
[CrossRef]

Thorson, P. H.

A. Ancel, G. L. Kooyman, P. J. Ponganis, J. P. Gendner, J. Lignon, X. Mestre, N. Huin, P. H. Thorson, P. Robisson, and Y. Le Maho, 'Foraging behaviour of emperor penguins as a resource detector in winter and summer,' Nature 360, 336-339 (1992).
[CrossRef]

Tilzer, M.

M. Tilzer, 125 Jahre Deutsche Polarforschung (2nd edition, Alfred-Wegener-Institut für Polar- und Meeresforschung, Bremerhaven, Germany, 1994).

Varjú, D.

G. Horváth, and D. Varjú, Polarized Light in Animal Vision--Polarization Patterns in Nature (Springer-Verlag, 2003).

Wehner, R.

J. Gál, G. Horváth, V. B. Meyer-Rochow, and R. Wehner, 'Polarization patterns of the summer sky and its neutral points measured by full-sky imaging polarimetry in Finnish Lapland north of the Arctic Circle,' Proc. R. Soc. London, Ser. A 457, 1385-1399 (2001).
[CrossRef]

Wiig, Ø.

K. Born, Ø. Wiig, and J. Thomassen, 'Seasonal and annual movements of radio-collared polar bears (Ursus maritimus) in northeast Greenland,' J. Mar. Syst. 10, 67-77 (1997).
[CrossRef]

Arctic (1)

I. Stirling, 'The biological importance of polynyas in the Canadian Arctic,' Arctic 33, 303-315 (1980).

J. Mar. Syst. (3)

I. Stirling, 'The importance of polynyas, ice edges, and leads to marine mammals and birds,' J. Mar. Syst. 10, 9-21 (1997).
[CrossRef]

H. J. Hirche, M. E. M. Baumann, G. Kattner, and R. Gradinger, 'Plankton distribution and the impact of copepod grazing on primary production in Fram Strait, Greenland Sea,' J. Mar. Syst. 2, 477-494 (1991).
[CrossRef]

K. Born, Ø. Wiig, and J. Thomassen, 'Seasonal and annual movements of radio-collared polar bears (Ursus maritimus) in northeast Greenland,' J. Mar. Syst. 10, 67-77 (1997).
[CrossRef]

Mar. Sci. Comm. (1)

C. P. McRoy and J. J. Goering, 'Annual budget of primary production in the Bearing Sea,' Mar. Sci. Comm. 2, 255-267 (1976).

Nature (1)

A. Ancel, G. L. Kooyman, P. J. Ponganis, J. P. Gendner, J. Lignon, X. Mestre, N. Huin, P. H. Thorson, P. Robisson, and Y. Le Maho, 'Foraging behaviour of emperor penguins as a resource detector in winter and summer,' Nature 360, 336-339 (1992).
[CrossRef]

Pol. Res. (1)

I. Stirling, D. Andriashek, and W. Calvert, 'Habitat preferences of polar bears in the Western Canadian Arctic in late winter and spring,' Pol. Res. 29, 13-24 (1993).

Proc. R. Soc. London, Ser. A (1)

J. Gál, G. Horváth, V. B. Meyer-Rochow, and R. Wehner, 'Polarization patterns of the summer sky and its neutral points measured by full-sky imaging polarimetry in Finnish Lapland north of the Arctic Circle,' Proc. R. Soc. London, Ser. A 457, 1385-1399 (2001).
[CrossRef]

Other (4)

G. Horváth, and D. Varjú, Polarized Light in Animal Vision--Polarization Patterns in Nature (Springer-Verlag, 2003).

R. G. B. Brown and D. N. Nettleship, 'The biological significance of polynyas to arctic colonial seabirds,' in I. Stirling and H. Cleator (eds.), Polynyas in the Canadian Arctic. Can. Wildl. Serv. Occas. Pap. 45, 59-65 (1981).

M. Tilzer, 125 Jahre Deutsche Polarforschung (2nd edition, Alfred-Wegener-Institut für Polar- und Meeresforschung, Bremerhaven, Germany, 1994).

I.Stirling and H.Cleator (eds.), 'Polynyas in the Canadian Arctic,' Occas. Pap. Can. Wildl. Serv. 45, 1-70 (1981).

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Figures (4)

Fig. 1
Fig. 1

A, Typical low-albedo (dark) open water surface (polynya) in the high-albedo (white) arctic ice-cover. The helicopter was stationed on board the Swedish icebreaker Oden and was used for ice reconnaissance flights. B, Rising vapor above the upstreaming warmer water of a polynya. C, D, Typical white “ice-skies” and gray “water-skies” above the arctic ice broken with polynyas. E, Above a long straight distant polynya visible near the horizon a long water-sky occurs. F, An elongated horizontal water-sky above a long straight polynya that is not visible because of the curvature of the Earth’s surface. The two darker spots between the water-sky and the horizon are water vapor clouds rising from two warmer spots of the polynya’s water surface. Not-directly-visible remote open waters can be detected from a distance on the basis of the smaller radiance of light from water-skies visible above them.

Fig. 2
Fig. 2

Remote (A) and near (B) views of a water-sky above a polynya seen from an icebreaker. Light from the water-sky and the ice-sky is represented by black- and white-headed arrows, respectively. The strong scattering and absorption of ice-sky light in the fog cloud above the water surface is symbolized by dashed lines.

Fig. 3
Fig. 3

A, 180 ° field-of-view color photograph of the sky above the arctic ice with a polynya stretching nearly parallel to the horizon in the middle part of the picture on 11 September 2005 at 01:50 (local summer time = UTC 8 ) at the geographical coordinates 89 ° 14 . 6 N and 174 ° 2 W . B, C, Patterns of the degree of linear polarization d and the angle of polarization α of the sky measured by 180 ° field-of-view imaging polarimetry in the blue ( 450 nm ) part of the spectrum. These patterns are very similar to those measured in the green ( 550 nm ) and red ( 650 nm ) parts of the spectrum. The optical axis of the fisheye lens was horizontal; thus the horizon is the horizontal diameter of the circular picture, the upper and lower parts of which show the sky and the ice-cover with a polynya, respectively. Only a fraction of the ice surface is shown. The rectangles in A show the celestial regions for which the values in Table 1 were calculated.

Fig. 4
Fig. 4

As Fig. 3, but in this example ( 89 ° 15 . 5 N , 172 ° 22 . 6 W , 07 : 30 = UTC 8 ) the statistically significant differences in the angle of polarization α between the ice-sky and the water-sky are smaller. The rectangles in A show the celestial regions for which the values in Table 2 were calculated.

Tables (2)

Tables Icon

Table 1 Number of Pixels and Optical Characteristics (Average ± Standard Deviation) of Light from Different Sections of the Arctic Sky Shown in Fig. 3 a

Tables Icon

Table 2 As Table 1 but for Fig. 4 a

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