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Optics Express

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Abstract/ Summary

Marine aggregates, agglomerations of particles and dissolved materials, are an important particulate pool in aquatic environments, but their optical properties are not well understood. To improve understanding of the optical properties of aggregates, two related studies are presented. In the first, an in situ manipulation experiment is described, in which beam attenuation of undisturbed and sheared suspensions are compared. Results show that in the sheared treatment bulk particle size decreases and beam attenuation increases, consistent with the hypothesis that a significant fraction of mass in suspension is contained in fragile aggregates. Interestingly, the magnitude of increase in beam attenuation is less than expected if the aggregates are modeled as solid spheres. Motivated by this result, a second study is presented, in which marine aggregates are modeled to assess how the beam attenuation of aggregates differs from that of their constituent particles and from solid particles of the same mass. The model used is based on that of Latimer [Appl. Opt. 24, 3231 (1985)] and mass specific attenuation is compared with that based on homogeneous and solid particles, the standard model for aquatic particles. In the modeling we use recent research relating size and solid fraction of aquatic aggregates. In contrast with Mie theory, this model provides a rather size-insensitive mass specific attenuation for most relevant sizes. This insensitivity is consistent with the observations that mass specific beam-attenuation of marine particles is in the range 0.2-0.6m2/gr despite large variability in size distribution and composition across varied aquatic environments.

Citation/Publisher Attribution

Boss, E., Slade, W.H., and P. Hill, 2009. Effect of particulate aggregation in aquatic environments on the beam attenuation and its utility as a proxy for particulate mass. Optics Express, Vol. 17, No. 11, pp. 9408-9420

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©2009 Optical Society of America




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