Spectral signature of suspended fine particulate material on light absorption properties of CDOM

Philippe Massicotte, Colin Stedmon, Stiig Markager

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Fine submicron organic particles can represent an important fraction of the dissolved organic matter (DOM) pool in aquatic ecosystems and their optical properties differ from those normally considered dissolved (< 0.2 μm), which means that the choice of filter type/pore size can influence the light absorption characteristics. In this study, a total of 867 paired CDOM absorption spectra (n =1734) from different ecosystems (lakes, streams, sewages and estuaries) were measured on 0.2 μm and GF/F (nominal pore size 0.7 μm) filters. The aims were to evaluate how fine organic particles influence the spectral signature of the DOM pool and to quantify the effects of choice of filter type. In aquatic ecosystems influenced by terrestrial DOM (rivers and lakes), the dissolved fraction (here defined as< 0.2 μm) overwhelmed the fine particulate signal (0.2–0.7 μm) which did not contribute significantly to the absorption signal. In contrast, freshly-produced fine particles released by phytoplankton significantly increased measured CDOM absorption in productive environments with low terrestrial background. Our results demonstrate that the choice of filter pore size can have a significant impact on the outcome of spectral metrics often used to characterise CDOM such as the spectral slope (S) or the slope ratio (SR). Hence, this may complicate the combining of CDOM absorption measurements from different studies where different pore sizes were used as fine particulate material may significantly influence the spectral signature, particularly in situations where phytoplankton is the dominating source of DOM
Original languageEnglish
JournalMarine Chemistry
Pages (from-to)98-106
Publication statusPublished - 2017


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