Using synchronous fluorescence spectroscopy and principal components analysis to monitor dissolved organic matter dynamics in a glacier system

J. D. Barker, M. J. Sharp, R. J. Turner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

40 Scopus citations

Abstract

The molecular characteristics of dissolved organic matter (DOM) reflect both its source material and its biogeochemical history. In glacial systems, DOM characteristics might be expected to change over the course of a melt season as changes in the glacier drainage system cause the mobilization of DOM from different OM pools. To test this hypothesis we used Principal Components Analysis (PCA) of synchronous fluorescence spectra to detect and describe changes in the DOM in meltwater from a glacier system in the Coast Mountains of northern British Columbia, Canada. For most of the melt season, the dominant component of subglacially routed meltwater DOM is characterized by a tyrosine-like fluorophore. This DOM component is most likely derived from supraglacial snowmelt. During periods of high discharge, a second component of DOM is present which is humic in character and similar to DOM sampled from a nearby non-glacial stream. This DOM component is inferred to be derived from a moss-covered soil environment that has been glacially overrun. It is probably entrained into glacial melt waters when the supraglacial meltwater flux exceeds the capacity of the principal subglacial drainage channels and water floods areas of the glacier bed that are normally isolated from the subglacial drainage system. Another source of DOM also appears to be mobilized during periods of high air temperatures. It is characterized by both humic and proteinaceous fluorophores and may be derived from the drainage of supraglacial cryoconite holes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1487-1500
Number of pages14
JournalHydrological Processes
Volume23
Issue number10
DOIs
StatePublished - May 15 2009
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Dissolved organic matter
  • Outre Glacier
  • Principal Components Analysis
  • Synchronous fluorescence

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