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Spectrophotometric discrimination of river dissolved organic matter

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Andrew Baker


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There is a need to be able to differentiate the dissolved organic matter (DOM) fraction in river waters. Research in the 1970s and 1980s has attempted to utilize both absorbance and flourescence to distinguish between DOM fractions in river waters, but both were limited by the available technology. Total organic carbon content has, therefore, been widely used as a standard method of measuring DOM concentration, although it has little power to differentiate DOM fractions. Recent advances in flourescence spectrophotometry enable rapid and optically precise analysis of DOM. Here, we show how a combination of both flourescence and absorbance can be used to discriminate statistically between spatial variations of DOM in tributaries in a small catchment of the Ouseburn, NE England. The results of the discriminant analysis suggest that about 70% of the samples can be correctly classified to its tributary. Discriminant function 1 explains 60·8% of the variance in the data and the fulvic-like fluorescence intensity has the largest absolute correlation within this function; discriminant function 2 explains a further 21·5% of the variance and the fulvic-like fluorescence emission wavelength has the largest absolute correlation within this function. The discriminant analysis does not correctly classify all tributaries every time, and successfully discriminates between the different tributaries 70% of the time. Occasions when the tributary waters are less well discriminated are due to either episodic pollution events (at two sites) or due to tributaries that have strong seasonal trends in spectrophotometric parameters, which allows the sites to be misclassified. Results suggest that spectrophotometric techniques have considerable potential in the discrimination of DOM in rivers. © 2002 John Wiley and Sons, Ltd.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Baker A

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Hydrological Processes

Year: 2002

Volume: 16

Issue: 16

Pages: 3203-3213

ISSN (print): 0885-6087

ISSN (electronic): 1099-1085

Publisher: John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


DOI: 10.1002/hyp.1097


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