Characterisation of dissolved organic matter fluorescence properties by PARAFAC analysis and thermal quenching

Elfrida M. Carstea, Andy Baker, Magdalena Bieroza, Darren M. Reynolds, Jonathan Bridgeman

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The fluorescence intensity of dissolved organic matter (DOM) in aqueous samples is known to be highly influenced by temperature. Although several studies have demonstrated the effect of thermal quenching on the fluorescence of DOM, no research has been undertaken to assess the effects of temperature by combining fluorescence excitation – emission matrices (EEM) and parallel factor analysis (PARAFAC) modelling. This study further extends previous research on thermal quenching by evaluating the impact of temperature on the fluorescence of DOM from a wide range of environmental samples, in the range 20° C - 0° C. Fluorescence intensity increased linearly with respect to temperature decrease at all temperatures down to 0° C. Results showed that temperature affected the PARAFAC components associated with humic-like and tryptophan-like components of DOM differently, depending on the water type. The terrestrial humic-like components, C1 and C2 presented the highest thermal quenching in rural water samples and the lowest in urban water samples, while C3, the tryptophan-like component, and C4, a reprocessed humic-like component, showed opposite results. These results were attributed to the availability and abundance of the components or to the degree of exposure to the heat source. The variable thermal quenching of the humic-like components also indicated that although the PARAFAC model generated the same components across sites, the DOM composition of each component differed between them. This study has shown that thermal quenching can provide additional information on the characteristics and composition of DOM and highlighted the importance of correcting fluorescence data collected in situ.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)152–161
JournalWater Research
Early online date21 May 2014
Publication statusPublished - 15 Sept 2014


  • fluorescence spectroscopy
  • thermal quenching
  • dissolved organic matter
  • parallel factor analysis
  • temperature correction


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