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Four Current Meter Models Compared in Strong Currents in Drake Passage

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  • 1 Graduate School of Oceanography, University of Rhode Island, Narragansett, Rhode Island
  • | 2 Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, California
  • | 3 Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole, Massachusetts
  • | 4 Aanderaa Data Instruments, Inc., Attleboro, Massachusetts
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Abstract

Seven current meters representing four models on a stiffly buoyed mooring were placed for an 11-month deployment to intercompare their velocity measurements: two vector-measuring current meters (VMCMs), two Aanderaa recording current meter (RCM) 11s, two Aanderaa SEAGUARDs, and a Nortek Aquadopp. The current meters were placed 6-m apart from each other at about 4000-m depth in an area of Drake Passage expected to have strong currents, nearly independent of depth near the bottom. Two high-current events occurred in bursts of semidiurnal pulses lasting several days, one with peak speeds up to 67 cm s−1 and the other above 35 cm s−1. The current-speed measurements all agreed within 7% of the median value when vector averaged over simultaneous time intervals. The VMCMs, chosen as the reference measurements, were found to measure the median of the mean-current magnitudes. The RCM11 and SEAGUARD current speeds agreed within 2% of the median at higher speeds (35–67 cm s−1), whereas in lower speed ranges (0–35 cm s−1) the vector-averaged speeds for the RCM11 and SEAGUARD were 4%–5% lower and 3%–5% higher than the median, respectively. The shorter-record Aquadopp current speeds were about 6% higher than the VMCMs over the range (0–40 cm s−1) encountered.

Corresponding author address: D. Randolph Watts, Graduate School of Oceanography, University of Rhode Island, 215 South Ferry Road, Narragansett, RI 02882. E-mail: randywatts@mail.uri.edu

Abstract

Seven current meters representing four models on a stiffly buoyed mooring were placed for an 11-month deployment to intercompare their velocity measurements: two vector-measuring current meters (VMCMs), two Aanderaa recording current meter (RCM) 11s, two Aanderaa SEAGUARDs, and a Nortek Aquadopp. The current meters were placed 6-m apart from each other at about 4000-m depth in an area of Drake Passage expected to have strong currents, nearly independent of depth near the bottom. Two high-current events occurred in bursts of semidiurnal pulses lasting several days, one with peak speeds up to 67 cm s−1 and the other above 35 cm s−1. The current-speed measurements all agreed within 7% of the median value when vector averaged over simultaneous time intervals. The VMCMs, chosen as the reference measurements, were found to measure the median of the mean-current magnitudes. The RCM11 and SEAGUARD current speeds agreed within 2% of the median at higher speeds (35–67 cm s−1), whereas in lower speed ranges (0–35 cm s−1) the vector-averaged speeds for the RCM11 and SEAGUARD were 4%–5% lower and 3%–5% higher than the median, respectively. The shorter-record Aquadopp current speeds were about 6% higher than the VMCMs over the range (0–40 cm s−1) encountered.

Corresponding author address: D. Randolph Watts, Graduate School of Oceanography, University of Rhode Island, 215 South Ferry Road, Narragansett, RI 02882. E-mail: randywatts@mail.uri.edu
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