Continuous measurements of discharge from a horizontal acoustic Doppler current profiler in a tidal river

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Acoustic Doppler current profilers (ADCPs) can be mounted horizontally at a river bank, yielding single-depth horizontal array observations of velocity across the river. This paper presents a semideterministic, semistochastic method to obtain continuous measurements of discharge from horizontal ADCP (HADCP) data in a tidal river. In the deterministic part, single-depth velocity data are converted to specific discharge by applying the law of the wall, which requires knowledge of local values of the bed roughness length (z0). A new filtration technique was developed to infer cross-river profiles of z0 from moving boat ADCP measurements. Width-averaged values of z0 were shown to be predominantly constant in time but differed between ebb and flood. In the stochastic part of the method, specific discharge was converted to total discharge on the basis of a model that accounts for the time lag between flow variation in the central part of the river and flow variation near the banks. Model coefficients were derived using moving boat ADCP data. The consistency of mutually independent discharge estimates from HADCP measurements was investigated to validate the method, analyzing river discharge and tidal discharge separately. Inaccuracy of the method is attributed primarily to mechanisms controlling transverse exchange of momentum, which produce temporal variation in the discharge distribution over the cross section. Specifically, development of river dunes may influence the portion of the discharge concentrated within the range of the HADCP
Original languageEnglish
Article numberW11406
Number of pages13
JournalWater Resources Research
Publication statusPublished - 2009


  • bed shear-stress
  • velocity distributions
  • probabilistic approach
  • fluid-flows
  • roughness
  • sediment
  • channel
  • adcp


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