Continuous measurement of suspended-sediment discharge in rivers by use of optical backscatterance sensors

IAHS-AISH Publication
By:  and 
Edited by: J. BogenT. Fergus, and D. Walling


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Optical sensors have been used to measure turbidity and suspended-sediment concentration by many marine and estuarine studies, and optical sensors can provide automated, continuous time series of suspended-sediment concentration and discharge in rivers. Three potential problems with using optical sensors are biological fouling, particle-size variability, and particle-reflectivity variability. Despite varying particle size, output from an optical backscatterance sensor in the Sacramento River at Freeport, California, USA, was calibrated successfully to discharge-weighted, cross-sectionally averaged suspended-sediment concentration, which was measured with the equal discharge-, or width-increment, methods and an isokinetic sampler. A correction for sensor drift was applied to the 3-year time series. However, the calibration of an optical backscatterance sensor used in the Colorado River at Cisco, Utah, USA, was affected by particle-size variability. The adjusted time series at Freeport was used to calculate hourly suspended-sediment discharge that compared well with daily values from a sediment station at Freeport. The appropriateness of using optical sensors in rivers should be evaluated on a site-specific basis and measurement objectives, potential particle size effects, and potential fouling should be considered.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Continuous measurement of suspended-sediment discharge in rivers by use of optical backscatterance sensors
Series title IAHS-AISH Publication
Issue 283
Year Published 2003
Language English
Larger Work Type Article
Larger Work Subtype Journal Article
Larger Work Title IAHS-AISH Publication
First page 28
Last page 36
Conference Title Erosion Sediment Transport Measurement in Rivers: Techlogical and Methodological Advances
Conference Location Oslo
Conference Date 19 June 2002 through 21 June 2002
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