Measurement uncertainties in PSICAM and reflective tube absorption meters


The nature and magnitude of measurement uncertainties (precision and accuracy) associated with two approaches for measuring absorption by turbid waters (b(532 nm) ranging from 0.20 m−1 to 22.89 m−1) are investigated here: (a) point source integrating cavity absorption meters (PSICAM), and (b) reflective tube absorption meters (AC-9 and AC-s – both WET Labs Inc., USA). Absolute measurement precision at 440 nm was quantified using standard deviations of triplicate measurements for the PSICAM and de-trended, bin averaged time series for the AC-9/s, giving comparable levels (< 0.006 m−1) for both instruments. Using data collected from a wide range of UK coastal waters, PSICAM accuracy was assessed by comparing both total non-water absorption and absorption by coloured dissolved organic material (CDOM) measured on discrete samples by two independent PSICAMs. AC-9/s performance was tested by comparing total non-water absorption measured in situ by an AC-9 and an AC-s mounted on the same frame. Results showed that the PSICAM outperforms AC-9/s instruments with regards to accuracy, with average spread in the PSICAM total absorption data of 0.006 m−1 (RMSE) compared to 0.028 m−1 for the AC-9/s devices. Despite application of a state of the art scattering correction method, the AC-9/s instruments still tend to overestimate absorption compared to PSICAM data by on average 0.014 m−1 RMSE (AC-s) and 0.043 m−1 RMSE (AC-9). This remaining discrepancy can be largely attributed to residual limitations in the correction of AC-9/s data for scattering effects and limitations in the quality of AC-9/s calibration measurements.
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