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Wayne H. Slade, Emmanuel Boss, Giorgio Dall’Olmo, M. Rois Langner, James Loftin, Michael J. Behrenfeld, Collin Roesler, and Toby K. Westberry


Optical sensors have distinct advantages when used in ocean observatories, autonomous platforms, and on vessels of opportunity, because of their high-frequency measurements, low power consumption, and the numerous established relationships between optical measurements and biogeochemical variables. However, the issues of biofouling and instrument stability over time remain complicating factors when optical instruments are used over periods longer than several days. Here, a method for obtaining calibration-independent measurements of spectral particle absorption and attenuation is presented. Flow-through optical instrumentation is routinely diverted through a large–surface area 0.2-μm cartridge filter, allowing for the calculation of particle optical properties by differencing temporally adjacent filtered and whole water samples. This approach yields measurements that are independent of drift in instrument calibration. The method has advantages not only for coastally moored deployments, but also for applications in optically clear waters where uncertainties in instrument calibration can be a significant part of the signal measured. The differencing technique is demonstrated using WET Labs (Philomath, Oregon) ac-9 and ac-s multi- and hyperspectral absorption and attenuation meters. For the ac-s sensor, a correction scheme is discussed that utilizes the spectral shape of water absorption in the near-infrared to improve the accuracy of temperature and scattering-corrected spectra. Flow-through particulate absorption measurements are compared with discrete filter-pad measurements and are found to agree well (R 2 = 0.77; rmse = 0.0174 m−1).

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