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Ocean Speed and Turbulence Measurements Using Pitot-Static Tubes on Moorings

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  • 1 College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences, Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon
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Abstract

A low-power (<10 mW), physically small (15.6 cm long × 3.2 cm diameter), lightweight (600 g Cu; alternatively, 200 g Al), robust, and simply calibrated pitot-static tube to measure mean speed and turbulence dissipation is described and evaluated. The measurement of speed is derived from differential pressure via Bernoulli’s principle. The differential pressure sensor employed here has relatively small, but significant, adverse sensitivities to static pressure, temperature, and acceleration, which are characterized in tests in the college’s laboratory. Results from field tests on moorings indicate acceptable agreement in pitot-static speed measurements with independent acoustic Doppler current profiler speeds, characterized as linear fits with slope = 1 (95% confidence), ±0.02 m s−1 bias, and root-mean-square error of residuals (observed minus fitted values) = 0.055 m s−1. Direct estimates of are derived from fits of velocity spectra to a theoretical turbulence inertial subrange. From near-bottom measurements, these estimates are interpreted as seafloor friction velocities, which yield drag coefficients consistent with expected values. Noise levels for , based on 40-min spectral fits, are <10–9 m2 s–3. In comparison to the airfoil (or shear) probe, the pitot-static tube provides the full spectrum of velocity, not just the dissipation range of the spectrum. In comparison to acoustic measurements of velocity, the pitot-static tube does not require acoustic scatters in the measurement volume. This makes the sensor a candidate for use in the deep ocean, for example, where acoustic scatterers are weak.

Corresponding author address: James Moum, College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences, Oregon State University, 104 CEOAS Administration Bldg., Corvallis, OR 97331-5503. E-mail: moum@coas.oregonstate.edu

Abstract

A low-power (<10 mW), physically small (15.6 cm long × 3.2 cm diameter), lightweight (600 g Cu; alternatively, 200 g Al), robust, and simply calibrated pitot-static tube to measure mean speed and turbulence dissipation is described and evaluated. The measurement of speed is derived from differential pressure via Bernoulli’s principle. The differential pressure sensor employed here has relatively small, but significant, adverse sensitivities to static pressure, temperature, and acceleration, which are characterized in tests in the college’s laboratory. Results from field tests on moorings indicate acceptable agreement in pitot-static speed measurements with independent acoustic Doppler current profiler speeds, characterized as linear fits with slope = 1 (95% confidence), ±0.02 m s−1 bias, and root-mean-square error of residuals (observed minus fitted values) = 0.055 m s−1. Direct estimates of are derived from fits of velocity spectra to a theoretical turbulence inertial subrange. From near-bottom measurements, these estimates are interpreted as seafloor friction velocities, which yield drag coefficients consistent with expected values. Noise levels for , based on 40-min spectral fits, are <10–9 m2 s–3. In comparison to the airfoil (or shear) probe, the pitot-static tube provides the full spectrum of velocity, not just the dissipation range of the spectrum. In comparison to acoustic measurements of velocity, the pitot-static tube does not require acoustic scatters in the measurement volume. This makes the sensor a candidate for use in the deep ocean, for example, where acoustic scatterers are weak.

Corresponding author address: James Moum, College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences, Oregon State University, 104 CEOAS Administration Bldg., Corvallis, OR 97331-5503. E-mail: moum@coas.oregonstate.edu
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