Abstract

Spectrophotometric measurement of particulate matter retained on filters is the most common and practical method for routine determination of the spectral light absorption coefficient of aquatic particles, ap(λ), at high spectral resolution over a broad spectral range. The use of differing geometrical measurement configurations and large variations in the reported correction for pathlength amplification induced by the particle/filter matrix have hindered adoption of an established measurement protocol. We describe results of dedicated laboratory experiments with a diversity of particulate sample types to examine variation in the pathlength amplification factor for three filter measurement geometries; the filter in the transmittance configuration (T), the filter in the transmittance-reflectance configuration (T-R), and the filter placed inside an integrating sphere (IS). Relationships between optical density measured on suspensions (ODs) and filters (ODf) within the visible portion of the spectrum were evaluated for the formulation of pathlength amplification correction, with power functions providing the best functional representation of the relationship for all three geometries. Whereas the largest uncertainties occur in the T method, the IS method provided the least sample-to-sample variability and the smallest uncertainties in the relationship between ODs and ODf. For six different samples measured with 1 nm resolution within the light wavelength range from 400 to 700 nm, a median error of 7.1% is observed for predicted values of ODs using the IS method. The relationships established for the three filter-pad methods are applicable to historical and ongoing measurements; for future work, the use of the IS method is recommended whenever feasible.

© 2015 Optical Society of America

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