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Ultraviolet/visible (UV/Vis) absorbance spectroscopy is a commonly used technique for characterizing dissolved organic matter (DOM). We present an analysis of UV/Vis absorbance spectra from 983 lakes throughout Sweden, sampled during autumn 2009. Metrics included both specific absorbances (i.e. absorbance per mass unit of organic carbon), and descriptions of spectral shape. Overall, we found three factors to which all spectral metrics were similarly related: acidity, retention-time, and latitude. In general, alkaline lakes with a long retention time in northern Sweden have lower specific absorbance and steeper spectral slope than acidic lakes with a short retention time in southern Sweden. Relative to the specific absorbance measured at 254 nm (SUVA), commonly used as a measure of DOM aromaticity, the specific absorbance at longer wavelengths and metrics of spectral shape were more sensitive to acidity and less sensitive to latitude. Although different spectral metrics are hypothesized to reflect different properties of DOM, UV/Vis absorbance spectroscopy may not be useful for more refined characterization of organic matter because of the strong inter-correlation between metrics. Nevertheless, it remains useful as a quick, cheap and reliable method of estimating DOM quantity and describing quality. We suggest that the most informative range to measure absorbance is between approximately 250 and 360 nm, where the between-lake variability is largest and absorbance can, in general, be precisely measured.
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Journal of Environmental Monitoring
- Information Point
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