Natural organic matter (NOM) in soils, sediments and water represents a complex and highly heterogeneous mixture of partially degraded and altered biomolecules together with secondary reaction products produced during the humification of any OM that has previously entered the soil, water and sediment system (i.e. Xenobiotics, charcoal, etc.). Bearing in mind the important ecological role of NOM and the fact that structure defines function, a profound understanding of the chemical nature of this material is of great use for a better understanding of the potential of NOM. During the last years, considerable advances were reached with respect to the development and improvement of analytical techniques many of which turned their application in NOM research to an even more important tool. Therefore the goal of this short course is to introduce the participants to techniques such as
i) NMR spectroscopic techniques
ii) Analytical Pyrolysis (Py-GC/MS)
iii) Stable isotope analysis
iv) FT-Infrared spectroscopy
v) Thermogravimetric approaches
After a short introduction into the theoretical background of the respective technique, the participants will be informed about possible applications in NOM research. With this approach we intend to mediate a first overview which can facilitate the decision which technique may be the most suitable for answering a specific scientific question. A further goal of the course is to provide the background which is needed for a critical evaluation of the obtained data.