Correcting acoustic Doppler current profiler discharge measurement bias from moving-bed conditions without global positioning during the 2004 Glen Canyon Dam controlled flood on the Colorado River

Jeffrey W. Gartner,Neil K. Ganju

Limnol. Oceanogr. Methods 5:156-162 (2007) | DOI: 10.4319/lom.2007.5.156

ABSTRACT: Discharge measurements were made by acoustic Doppler current profiler at two locations on the Colorado River during the 2004 controlled flood from Glen Canyon Dam, Arizona. Measurement hardware and software have constantly improved from the 1980s such that discharge measurements by acoustic profiling instruments are now routinely made over a wide range of hydrologic conditions. However, measurements made with instruments deployed from moving boats require reliable boat velocity data for accurate measurements of discharge. This is normally accomplished by using special acoustic bottom track pings that sense instrument motion over bottom. While this method is suitable for most conditions, high current flows that produce downstream bed sediment movement create a condition known as moving bed that will bias velocities and discharge to lower than actual values. When this situation exists, one solution is to determine boat velocity with satellite positioning information. Another solution is to use a lower frequency instrument. Discharge measurements made during the 2004 Glen Canyon controlled flood were subject to moving-bed conditions and frequent loss of bottom track. Due to site conditions and equipment availability the measurements were conducted without benefit of external positioning information or lower frequency instruments. This paper documents and evaluates several techniques used to correct the resulting underestimated discharge measurements. One technique produces discharge values in good agreement with estimates from numerical model and measured hydrographs during the flood.