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The use of acoustic Doppler current profilers (ADCPs) from a moving boat is now a commonly used method for measuring streamflow. The technology and methods for making ADCP-based discharge measurements are different from the technology and methods used to make traditional discharge measurements with mechanical meters. Although the ADCP is a valuable tool for measuring streamflow, it is only accurate when used with appropriate techniques. This report presents guidance on the use of ADCPs for measuring streamflow; this guidance is based on the experience of U.S. Geological Survey employees and published reports, papers, and memorandums of the U.S. Geological Survey. The guidance is presented in a logical progression, from predeployment planning, to field data collection, and finally to post processing of the collected data. Acoustic Doppler technology and the instruments currently (2013) available also are discussed to highlight the advantages and limitations of the technology. More in-depth, technical explanations of how an ADCP measures streamflow and what to do when measuring in moving-bed conditions are presented in the appendixes. ADCP users need to know the proper procedures for measuring discharge from a moving boat and why those procedures are required, so that when the user encounters unusual field conditions, the procedures can be adapted without sacrificing the accuracy of the streamflow-measurement data.
Additional Publication Details
USGS Numbered Series
Measuring discharge with acoustic Doppler current profilers from a moving boat
Techniques and Methods
First posted January 22, 2009; Revised February 26, 2009; Version 2.0: March 5, 2014