Comparison of UV–VIS and FDOM sensors for in situ monitoring of stream DOC concentrations
Abstract. Optical measurements using ultraviolet–visible (UV–VIS) spectrophotometric sensors and fluorescent dissolved organic matter (FDOM) sensors have recently been used as proxies of dissolved organic carbon (DOC) concentrations in streams and rivers at a high temporal resolution. Despite the merits of the sensors, temperature changes and particulate matter in water can interfere with the sensor readings, over- or underestimating DOC concentrations. However, little efforts have been made to compare responses of the two types of the sensors to critical interferences such as temperature and turbidity. The performance of a UV–VIS sensor and an FDOM sensor was compared in both laboratory experiments and in situ monitoring in a forest stream in Korea during three storm events. Although the UV–VIS sensor did not require temperature correction in laboratory experiments using the forest stream water, the deviations of its values from the DOC concentrations measured with a TOC analyzer increased linearly as turbidity increased. In contrast, the FDOM sensor outputs decreased significantly as temperature or turbidity increased, requiring temperature and turbidity correction for in situ monitoring of DOC concentrations. The results suggest that temperature correction is relatively straightforward but turbidity correction may not be simple because the attenuation of light by particles can significantly reduce the sensitivity of the sensors in highly turbid waters. Shifts in composition of fluorophores also need to be carefully tracked using periodically collected samples since light absorbance and fluorescence can vary as the concentrations of dominant fluorophores change.