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Use of Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler (ADCP) to Measure Mixing, Velocity and Discharge for Environmental Assessment

Paul T Devine 1, Harvey Seim 2

1 RD Instruments, San Diego, California
2 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina

To comply with U.S. EPA clean water act regulations, both field mixing studies and predictive numerical models are frequently used to assess effluent plume dilution within receiving waters. Because estuaries, or open coastal regions have reversing tidal flows, a re-circulation and buildup of previously discharged effluent may occur. Measurement of the horizontal and vertical variation of the flow field is critical to properly assess an estuary or coastal region's potential for dispersing built-up contaminants. Since the relative dilution of effluent is highly dependent upon the amount of mixing present within receiving waters, field measurements of mixing are also required to provide additional certainty to the environmental assessment. Measurements of mixing can also provide valuable dispersion coefficient calibration data for numerical simulations of proposed effluent discharges.

Since the mid 1980's, Acoustic Doppler Current Profilers (ADCP) have been effectively used to measure velocity and echo intensity profiles from stationary platforms or moving vessels for the calculation of river discharge, and the identification of suspended particulate plumes. Recently, it has been demonstrated that ADCPs can also be used to measure profiles of Reynolds stress, an indicator of the relative mixing in the water column. Examples of stationary and moving boat ADCP data will be given that illustrate the capability to assess the flow conditions within an estuary or near coastal region. Summaries of the required ADCP hardware, deployment conditions and analysis that are required for the calculation of Reynolds stress will be detailed.

Keywords: field data collection, plume tracking, dilution modeling, dispersion coefficient, velocity profile, ADCP, discharge, turbulence

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