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Mass and UV-visible spectral fingerprints of dissolved organic matter : Sources and reactivity

  • Heather E. Reader
  • Colin A Stedmon
  • Nikoline J Nielsen
  • Emma S. Kritzberg
Publishing year: 2015
Language: English
Publication/Series: Frontiers in Marine Science
Volume: 2
Issue: OCT
Document type: Journal article
Publisher: Frontiers Media S. A.

Abstract english

Advanced analytical techniques have revealed a high degree of complexity in the chemical makeup of dissolved organic matter (DOM). This has opened the door for a deeper understanding of the role of DOM in the aquatic environment. However, the expense, analytical cost, and challenges related to interpretation of the large datasets generated by these methods limit their widespread application. Optical methods, such as absorption and fluorescence spectroscopy are relatively inexpensive and easy to implement, but lack the detailed information available in more advanced methods. We were able to directly link the analysis of absorption spectra to the mass spectra of DOM using an in-line detector system coupled to multivariate data analysis. Monthly samples were taken from three river mouths in Sweden for 1 year. One subset of samples was exposed to photochemical degradation and another subset was exposed to long-term (4 months) biological degradation. A principle component analysis was performed on the coupled absorption-mass spectra data. Loading spectra for each principle component show distinct fingerprints for both reactivity (i.e., photochemical, biological degradation) and source (i.e., catchment land cover, temperature, hydrology). The fingerprints reveal mass-to-charge values that contribute to optical signals and characteristics seen in past studies, and emphasize the difficulties in interpreting changes in bulk CDOM characteristics resulting from multiple catchment processes. The approach provides a potential simple method for using optical indicators as tracers for more complex chemical processes both with regards to source material for DOM and the past reactive processing of DOM.


  • Ecology
  • Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
  • Absorbance spectra
  • Biogeochemistry
  • Dissolved organic matter
  • Mass spectrometry
  • Optical properties


Emma Kritzberg
E-mail: emma [dot] kritzberg [at] biol [dot] lu [dot] se

Senior lecturer

Aquatic ecology

+46 46 222 40 79



Research group

Aquatic Ecology


Doctoral students and postdocs

PhD students, main supervisor

PhD students, assistant supervisor

Post docs

Johanna Sjöstedt