The measurement of unsteady or tidally affected flow has been a problem faced by hydrologists for many years. Dynamic discharge conditions impose an unreasonably short time constraint on conventional current-meter discharge-measurement methods, which typically last a minimum of 1 hour. Tidally affected discharge can change more than 100 percent during a 10-minute period. Over the years, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has developed moving-boat discharge-measurement techniques that are much faster but less accurate than conventional methods. For a bibliography of conventional moving-boat publications, see Simpson and Oltmann (1993, page 17). The advent of the acoustic Doppler current profiler (ADCP) made possible the development of a discharge-measurement system capable of more accurately measuring unsteady or tidally affected flow. In most cases, an ADCP discharge-measurement system is dramatically faster than conventional discharge-measurement systems, and has comparable or better accuracy. In many cases, an ADCP discharge-measurement system is the only choice for use at a particular measurement site. ADCP systems are not yet ?turnkey;? they are still under development, and for proper operation, require a significant amount of operator training. Not only must the operator have a rudimentary knowledge of acoustic physics, but also a working knowledge of ADCP operation, the manufacturer's discharge-measurement software, and boating techniques and safety.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Discharge measurements using a broad-band acoustic Doppler current profiler