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Kyle F. E. Betteridge, Peter D. Thorne, and Paul S. Bell


The simultaneous measurement of current flow and suspended sediment concentration in the marine environment is central to the study of sediment transport processes. In view of this, two acoustic approaches for measuring flow were tested in a tidal estuary to assess their capabilities in this environment. A coherent Doppler velocity profiler and a cross-correlation velocity profiler were assessed using conventional current meters and a commercially available acoustic Doppler velocimeter. Mean velocity profiles were obtained up to a range of 1.47 m in 0.046-m range bins over a number of flood tides. The measurements compared well with the reference instruments and regression analysis produced gradients close to unity. Turbulent velocities measured with the coherent Doppler profiler were comparable with turbulent fluctuations measured with the acoustic Doppler velocimeter. The cross-correlation velocity profiler was shown to be unable to measure turbulent velocities. The backscattered signals received on the cross-correlation transducers were also used to compute the sediment concentration profiles using an explicit solution to the acoustic backscatter equation. Combining the concentration and flow measurements enabled sediment flux profiles to be obtained, the results of which compared favorably with flux measurements obtained from the conventional current meters and pumped sampling.

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Simon D. P. Williams, Paul S. Bell, David L. McCann, Richard Cooke, and Christine Sams


A low-cost [$30 (U.S. dollars)] consumer grade GPS receiver with a sideways-mounted antenna has been applied to measure tidal water levels at a mesotidal coastal site using an interferometric reflectometry approach. The proof-of-concept system was installed approximately 16 m above mean sea level in close proximity to a conventional bubbler tide gauge that provided validation data. The received signal-to-noise ratios (SNR) for the satellites in view were recorded for several months during two successive years and the observed frequencies of the interferometric oscillations used to calculate the difference in elevation between the receiver and the water surface. Comparisons with concurrent and historic in situ tide gauge data at the site initially helped to identify a calibration issue with the in situ gauge. The GPS-based measurements were shown to be in excellent agreement with the corrected in situ gauge, exhibiting a root-mean-square difference of 5.7 cm over a tidal range exceeding 3 m at spring tides and a daily averaged RMS of 1.7 cm. The SNR data from the low-cost GPS receivers are shown to provide significantly higher-quality data for this purpose compared with high-end geodetic grade receivers at similar sites. This low-cost, widely available technology has the potential to be applied globally for monitoring water levels in a wide variety of circumstances and applications that would otherwise be cost or situation prohibitive. It could also be applied as an independent cross check and quality control measure for conventional water-level gauges.

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