Field validation of an actuated convergent-beam acoustic Doppler profiler for high resolution flow mapping

Samuel F Harding, Mairi Dorward, Brian G. Sellar, Marshall Richmond

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Energetic river and tidal flow environments feature complex hydrodynamic conditions. Conventional acoustic Doppler profiling instrumentation typically requires assumptions of flow homogeneity over the spatial scales of the divergent beam separation. This removes the ability to measure spatio-temporal variability within the flow. However, velocity variability within these spatial scales is often important in the design of structures and devices exposed to such flow, informing dynamic and peak hydrodynamic load predictions. The research presented outlines the development and testing of a flow measurement instrument consisting of multiple spatially-separated single beam acoustic Doppler profilers converging on a remote focal point, the location of which can be programmatically adjusted through actuation. This increases the spatial resolution at which remote field measurements can be made in energetic flow environments. Field testing of the instrument was conducted in a tidal channel at Sequim Bay Inlet, WA, USA. Results are compared with independent reference measurements made by a co-located, motion-corrected acoustic Doppler velocimeter. This comparison, across tidal velocities of 0.4–0.7 m s−1, showed a mean velocity error of 0.5%–13.2% across nine sample locations within a 3.00 m × 2.25 m plane. To the authors' knowledge, this is the first publication of flow velocity results from non-intrusive acoustic measurements at an off-axis, focal point location that features 3D positional control.
Original languageEnglish
Article number045904
JournalMeasurement Science and Technology
Publication statusPublished - 15 Feb 2021


  • tidal energy
  • CADP
  • ADCP
  • flow measurement
  • Sensor systems
  • velocimetry
  • converging ADCP
  • turbulence measurement
  • resource characterisation


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