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Natural organic matter (NOM) is fundamental to many biogeochemical processes in river ecosystems. Currently, however, we have limited knowledge of NOM dynamics across the spectrum of flow conditions as previous studies have focused largely on storm events. Field deployable fluorescence technology offers new opportunities to explore both stochastic and predictable diel NOM dynamics at finer time-steps and for longer periods than was hitherto possible, thus yielding new insight into NOM sources, processing, and pathways. Hourly fluorescence data (humic-like fluorescence [Peak C] and tryptophan-like fluorescence [Peak T]) and a suite of hydro-climatological variables were collected from an urban river (Birmingham, UK). We explored monthly concentration-discharge (C-Q) patterns using segmented regression and assessed hysteretic and flushing behaviour for Peak C, T and turbidity to infer source zone activation. Diel patterns were assessed during low flow periods. Wavelet analysis identified strong diurnal variations in Peak C with early morning peaks while no diel dynamics were apparent for Peak T. Using generalised linear modelling relationships between Peak C periodicity and both solar radiation and time since previous storm/scouring event were identified. Breakpoints and positive slopes for C-Q relationship highlighted chemodynamic behaviour for NOM over most of the monitoring period, with Peak T mobilised more relative to Peak C during high Q. Hysteresis patterns were highly variable but flushing behaviour of Peak T and C suggested exhaustion of humic compounds during long duration events and following successive rainfall events. Peak T flushing was correlated with Q magnitude highlighting the potential for combined sewer overflows to act as important NOM sources despite significant dilution potential. This research highlights the potential of real-time, field deployable fluorescence spectroscopy as a viable method for providing insight into diel and transport driven NOM dynamics.
This article was published in the following journal.
Name: The Science of the total environment
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