Understanding macroscale processes controlling solar radiation in marine systems will be important in interpreting the potential effects of global change from increasing ultraviolet radiation (UV) and glacial retreat. This study provides the first quantitative assessment of UV in the water column of Prince William Sound, a subarctic, semienclosed sea surrounded by mountains, glaciers, rivers, bays and fjords in south central Alaska. Glacial influences on diffuse attenuation coefficients (Kd) were determined along an approximate 120 km transect running NE (61°07′43″N, 146°17′1″W) to SW (60°27′25″N, 148°05′27″ W). Glacial meltwater and flour caused a 10-fold increase in Kd for visible light, UV-A and UV-B, whereas high optical clarity was present in a diversity of areas away from glacial influences. Transition areas and locations affected by calving of a tidewater glacier had intermediate Kd values. Depths at 99% attenuation ranged from less than 0.2 m near glacial streams to greater than 5 m in bays and open ocean distant from sources of glacial sediments. These results suggest that potential global change from increasing UV and glacial retreat may have heterogeneous effects on subarctic marine systems.
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Vol. 81 • No. 1