Characterizing dissolved organic matter fluorescence with parallel factor analysis: a tutorial


  • Colin A. Stedmon,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Marine Ecology, National Environmental Research Institute, Aarhus University, Frederiksborgvej 399, Roskilde, Denmark
    • Corresponding author: E-mail:; tel: + 45 46301805

    Search for more papers by this author
  • Rasmus Bro

    1. Dept. Food Science, Faculty of Life Sciences, University Copenhagen, Rolighedsvej 30, DK-1958, Frederiksberg, Denmark
    Search for more papers by this author


A sub-fraction of dissolved organic matter fluoresces when excited with ultraviolet light. This property is used to quantify and characterize changes in dissolved organic matter (DOM) in aquatic environments. Detailed mapping of the fluorescence properties of DOM produces excitation emission matrices (EEM), which are well suited to multi-way data analysis techniques (chemometrics). Techniques such as parallel factor analysis (PARAFAC) are increasingly being applied to characterize DOM fluorescence properties. Here, an introduction to the technique and description of the advantages and pitfalls of its application to DOM fluorescence is presented. Additionally a MATLAB based tutorial and toolbox specific to PARAFAC analysis of DOM fluorescence is presented.