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Abstract

We study the underwater light field seasonality in a turbid lake, Laguna Chascomús (Buenos Aires, Argentina). We report (1) relationships between optical properties (OPs) and optically active substances (OASs); (2) relationships between inherent (IOPs) and apparent (AOPs) optical properties; and (3) the seasonal variability in OASs and OPs. Light absorption was dominated by the particulate fraction. The contributions of phytoplankton pigments and unpigmented components were similar. The best predictors of total particulate absorption, unpigmented particulate absorption, turbidity and vertical attenuation coefficient were total suspended solids or their ash content. Many OASs and OPs varied seasonally. The concentrations of OASs were higher during spring and summer, resulting in lower transparency and higher turbidity. However, mass-specific absorption coefficients displayed lower values during spring and summer. Thus, the higher light attenuation observed during spring and summer resulted from higher concentrations of relatively less absorptive OASs. Collectively, these results suggest that: (1) light extinction is enhanced during spring and summer; (2) the enhanced light extinction is due to changes in the particulate fraction; (3) the enhanced light extinction is mostly due to an increase in the amount of particulate material; and (4) the increase of particulate matter also enhanced light extinction through increased scattering.