From mobile ADCP to high-resolution SSC: a cross-section calibration tool



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Sediment is a major cause of stream impairment, and improved sediment monitoring is a crucial need. Point samples of suspended-sediment concentration (SSC) are often not enough to provide an understanding to answer critical questions in a changing environment. As technology has improved, there now exists the opportunity to obtain discrete measurements of SSC and flux while providing a spatial scale unmatched by any other device. Acoustic instruments are ubiquitous in the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) for making streamflow measurements but when calibrated with physical sediment samples, they may be used for sediment measurements as well. The acoustic backscatter measured by an acoustic Doppler current profiler (ADCP) has long been known to correlate well with suspended sediment, but until recently, it has mainly been qualitative in nature. This new method using acoustic surrogates has great potential to leverage the routine data collection to provide calibrated, quantitative measures of SSC which hold promise to be more accurate, complete, and cost efficient than other methods. This extended abstract presents a method for the measurement of high spatial and temporal resolution SSC using a down-looking, mobile ADCP from discrete cross-sections. The high-resolution scales of sediment data are a primary advantage and a vast improvement over other discrete methods for measuring SSC. Although acoustic surrogate technology using continuous, fixed-deployment ADCPs (side-looking) is proven, the same methods cannot be used with down-looking ADCPs due to the fact that the SSC and particle-size distribution variation in the vertical profile violates theory and complicates assumptions. A software tool was developed to assist in using acoustic backscatter from a down-looking, mobile ADCP as a surrogate for SSC. This tool has a simple graphical user interface that loads the data, assists in the calibration procedure, and provides data visualization and output options. This tool is designed to improve ongoing efforts to monitor and predict resource responses to a changing environment. Because ADCPs are used routinely for streamflow measurements, using acoustic backscatter from ADCPs as a surrogate for SSC has the potential to revolutionize sediment measurements by providing rapid measurements of sediment flux and distribution at spatial and temporal scales that are far beyond the capabilities of traditional physical samplers.

Additional publication details

Publication type Conference Paper
Publication Subtype Conference Paper
Title From mobile ADCP to high-resolution SSC: a cross-section calibration tool
Year Published 2015
Language English
Contributing office(s) Kentucky Water Science Center
Description 3 p.
Conference Title SEDHYD 2015
Conference Location Reno, Nevada
Conference Date April 19-23, 2015
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N