Flow-through PSICAM: a new approach for determining water constituents absorption continuously


Determination of spectral absorption coefficients in seawater is of interest for biologic oceanographers for various reasons, but faces also several problems, especially if continuous measurements are required. We introduce the flow-through point-source integrating cavity absorption meter (ft-PSICAM) as a new tool for the continuous measurement of spectral absorption coefficients in a range of 400–710 nm. A description of the system is given and its performance in comparison with a conventional PSICAM has been evaluated on two cruises in 2011 in the southern part of the North Sea (German Bight). Furthermore, factors influencing the measurement are discussed. When comparing the data of both systems, a good linear correlation has been found for all wavelengths (r2 > 0.91). Deviations between systems were different with respect to the wavelength examined with slopes of linear fits between 1.1 and 1.65 and offsets between −0.1 and 0.01, with the higher values at shorter wavelengths. They were caused mainly due to contamination of the flow-through system during operation by phytoplankton particles. Focus was also laid on the measurement of chlorophyll-a concentrations ([chl-a]) and total suspended matter concentrations ([TSM]) on the basis of absorption coefficient determination. For this, appropriate relationships were established and [chl-a] and [TSM] values were calculated from the relevant ft-PSICAM absorption coefficients. Their progression matches well with the progression of fluorescence and turbidity measurements made in parallel. In conclusion, the ft-PSICAM is successful in measuring spectral absorption coefficients continuously and resolving relative changes in seawater optical properties.
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