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Dissolved lignin is a well-established biomarker of terrigenous dissolved organic matter (DOM) in the ocean, and a chromophoric component of DOM. Although evidence suggests there is a strong linkage between lignin concentrations and chromophoric dissolved organic matter (CDOM) absorption coefficients in coastal waters, the characteristics of this linkage and the existence of a relationship that is applicable across coastal oceans remain unclear. Here, 421 paired measurements of dissolved lignin concentrations (sum of nine lignin phenols) and CDOM absorption coefficients [ag(λ)] were used to examine their relationship along the river-ocean continuum (0–37 salinity) and across contrasting coastal oceans (sub-tropical, temperate, high-latitude). Overall, lignin concentrations spanned four orders of magnitude and revealed a strong, non-linear relationship with ag(λ). The characteristics of the relationship (shape, wavelength dependency, lignin-composition dependency) and evidence from degradation indicators were all consistent with lignin being an important driver of CDOM variability in coastal oceans, and suggested physical mixing and long-term photodegradation were important in shaping the relationship. These observations were used to develop two simple empirical models for estimating lignin concentrations from ag(λ) with a ±20% error relative to measured values. The models are expected to be applicable in most coastal oceans influenced by terrigenous inputs.

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© 2016 Fichot, Benner, Kaiser, Shen, Amon, Ogawa and Lu. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

APA Citation

Fichot, C. G., Benner, R., Kaiser, K., Shen, Y., Amon, R. M., Ogawa, H., & Lu, C.-J. (2016). Predicting dissolved lignin phenol concentrations in the coastal ocean from Chromophoric Dissolved Organic matter (CDOM) absorption coefficients. Frontiers in Marine Science, 3.