Freshwater DOM quantity and quality from a two-component model of UV absorbance
We present a model that considers UV-absorbing dissolved organic matter (DOM) to consist of two components (A and B), each with a distinct and constant spectrum. Component A absorbs UV light strongly, and is therefore presumed to possess aromatic chromophores and hydrophobic character, whereas B absorbs weakly and can be assumed hydrophilic. We parameterised the model with dissolved organic carbon concentrations [DOC] and corresponding UV spectra for c. 1700 filtered surface water samples from North America and the United Kingdom, by optimising extinction coefficients for A and B, together with a small constant concentration of non-absorbing DOM (0.80 mg DOC L−1). Good unbiased predictions of [DOC] from absorbance data at 270 and 350 nm were obtained (r2 = 0.98), the sum of squared residuals in [DOC] being reduced by 66% compared to a regression model fitted to absorbance at 270 nm alone. The parameterised model can use measured optical absorbance values at any pair of suitable wavelengths to calculate both [DOC] and the relative amounts of A and B in a water sample, i.e. measures of quantity and quality. Blind prediction of [DOC] was satisfactory for 9 of 11 independent data sets (181 of 213 individual samples). âº UV optical absorbance by DOM can be explained by two end-member components (A & B). âº We analysed a data set of c. 1700 samples to derive the spectrum of each component. âº Fractions of A and B can be obtained from optical absorbance at two wavelengths. âº The results permit DOC concentration to be estimated accurately and without bias. âº The fractional contributions provide information on DOM quality.