Chromophoric dissolved organic matter (CDOM) in a subtropical estuary (Galveston Bay, USA) and the impact of Hurricane Harvey. Academic Article uri icon


  • The landfall of Hurricane Harvey in August 2017 provided the opportunity to study the impact of extreme freshwater discharge on chromophoric dissolved organic matter (CDOM) properties in a subtropical estuary (Galveston Bay, Texas). Both fluorescence spectroscopy (excitation-emission matrices) and a three-component parallel factor analysis (PARAFAC) model identified changes in CDOM properties. Comparing to Coble's peaks, component 1 was similar to peak C, component 2 to peak M, and component 3 to peak B. Results clearly show three periods with distinct CDOM properties: a dry season, a wet season, and Hurricane Harvey. The dry season was characterized by higher values of the spectral slope and fluorescence and biological indices. The wet season was characterized by high values of PARAFAC components 1 and 2 (humic-like) and the absorption coefficient at 350 nm. Some CDOM components were highly correlated with salinity, indicating conservative mixing. Component 3 (protein-like) had a low correlation to salinity, suggesting degradation or production processes in the bay. Silicates and NO3- + NO2- had negative relationships with salinity and a positive one with PARAFAC components 1 and 2. PARAFAC component 3 was correlated with dissolved oxygen and chlorophyll a, suggesting a relationship between CDOM fluorescent components and phytoplankton activity. High values of the humification index were observed immediately after Hurricane Harvey, indicating increased input of terrestrial organic matter into the bay. Hurricane Harvey increased CDOM levels and humification, and the variability and changes seem to be mostly due to freshwater discharge from the San Jacinto River and not the Trinity River. The influx of freshwater was sufficient to eliminate the salinity gradient in Galveston Bay and significantly change CDOM properties. Galveston Bay recovered quickly from the hurricane and associated flux of freshwater, returning to pre-hurricane CDOM characteristics in less than 2 months.

published proceedings

  • Environ Sci Pollut Res Int

author list (cited authors)

  • Gold-Bouchot, G., Polis, S., Castaon, L. E., Flores, M. P., Alsante, A. N., & Thornton, D.

citation count

  • 0

complete list of authors

  • Gold-Bouchot, Gerardo||Polis, Samuel||CastaƱon, Lauren Elizabeth||Flores, Mayra Padilla||Alsante, Alyssa Nicole||Thornton, Daniel Conrad Ogilvie

publication date

  • January 2021