Mid-infrared spectroscopy as a potential tool for reconstructing lake salinity

Laura Cunningham, John Tibby, Sean Forrester, Cameron Barr, Jan Skjemstad

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    Many aquatic ecosystems in Australia are impacted or threatened by salinisation; however, there is a paucity of records detailing the changes in salinity of individual water bodies that extend beyond a few decades. One way to overcome this issue is the use of inference models, which have typically been based on biological proxies. This pilot project investigates the potential for mid-infrared spectroscopy (MIRS) to provide an alternative method of reconstructing past salinity levels in Australian lakes. A small (19 lakes) calibration dataset was used to develop a MIRS-based lake water salinity inference model (measured vs. inferred salinity, based on leave-one-out cross-validation, R2 = 0.64). This model and a previously published diatom–salinity model were both used to infer salinity levels in Tower Hill Lake in south-eastern Australia, over the last 60 years. Comparisons between these reconstructions and measured salinity data from Tower Hill Lake indicate that salinities inferred by the MIRS model more closely resembled the measured values than those produced using the diatom model, predominantly in terms of the actual values inferred, but also with regard to the trends observed. This supports the hypothesis that MIRS can provide a valuable new tool for reconstructing lake salinity.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number479
    Number of pages17
    Issue number11
    Publication statusPublished - 26 Oct 2016


    • salinity
    • lake sediments
    • southern Australia
    • palaeolimnology
    • infrared spectroscopy
    • diatoms
    • palaeoecology


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