Spectral and RGB analysis of the light climate and its ecological impacts using an all-sky camera system in the Arctic

Stephen Grant, Geir Johnsen, David McKee, Artur Zolich, Jonathan H. Cohen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
17 Downloads (Pure)


The ArcLight observatory provides an hourly continuous time series of all-sky images providing light climate data (intensity, spectral composition, and photoperiod) from the Arctic (Svalbard at 79°N). Until recently, no complete annual time series of light climate relevant for biological processes has been provided from the high Arctic because of insufficient sensitivity of commercial light sensors during the Polar Night. The ArcLight set up is unique, as it provides both all-sky images and the corresponding integrated spectral irradiance in the visible part of the solar electromagnetic spectrum (EPAR). Here we present a further development providing hourly diel-annual dynamics from 2020 of the irradiance partitioned into the red, green, and blue parts of the solar spectrum and illustrate their relation to weather conditions, and sun and moon trajectories. We show that there is variation between the RGB proportions of irradiance throughout the year, with the blue part of the spectrum showing the greatest variation, which is dependent on weather conditions (i.e., cloud cover). We further provide an example of the biological impact of these spectral variations in the light climate using in vivo Chl a-specific absorption coefficients of diatoms (mean of six low light acclimated northern-Arctic bloom-forming species) to model total algal light absorption (AQ t o t a l ) and the corresponding fraction of quanta used by Photosystem II (AQPSII) (O2 production) in RGB bands and the potential impacts on the photoreceptor response, suggesting periods where repair and maintenance functions dominate activity in the absence of appreciable levels of red or green light. The method used here can be applied to light climate data and spectral response data worldwide to give localized ecological models of AQ.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5139-5150
Number of pages12
JournalApplied Optics
Issue number19
Early online date21 Jun 2023
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2023


  • ArcLight observatory
  • Polar Night
  • all-sky cameras
  • irradiance
  • photoreceptors
  • ecosystems


Dive into the research topics of 'Spectral and RGB analysis of the light climate and its ecological impacts using an all-sky camera system in the Arctic'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this