Light scattering properties in such a highly turbid productive lake as Lake Taihu in China were examined through 118 samples collected during three cruises in November 2006, March 2007, and November 2007. The particulate scattering and backscattering coefficients were observed using WETLabs AC-S and ECO-BB9. A power model with a spectral exponent of was used to simulate the particulate scattering coefficient () spectra. It has a better performance than the linear model. Scattering parameters are more closely related to inorganic suspended matter (ISM) concentration than to other water components, such as total suspended matter (TSM), organic suspended matter (OSM), and chlorophyll a (Chla). This indicates that ISM dominates the scattering signal in the lake. Three discrepancies with oceanic/coastal waters are observed: (a) the backscattering ratio () decreases with an increase in the ISM concentration because of a highly strong contribution by ISM to ; (b) the mass-specific scattering coefficient () exhibits a wider range of variability than that reported in previous studies, which can be attributed to considerable variation in the OSM and ISM distributions; (c) the particle size distribution slope (ξ) is mostly larger than 4.0 in Lake Taihu, whereas it is usually within 3.5–4.0 for marine particles. In addition, the bulk refractive index () calculated according to the Twardowski et al. model [J. Geophys. Res. 106, 14129 (2001)JGREA20148-0227] indicates that some stations () can be regarded as organic-particle dominant. Other stations with high ISM concentrations have a very small value mostly within 1.10–1.17. Overall, the knowledge on the scattering properties gained in this study broadens our understanding of water optics in highly turbid productive water columns.
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