Quantifying acoustic doppler current profiler discharge uncertainty: A Monte Carlo based tool for moving-boat measurements

Water Survey of Canada



This paper presents a method using Monte Carlo simulations for assessing uncertainty of moving-boat acoustic Doppler current profiler (ADCP) discharge measurements using a software tool known as QUant, which was developed for this purpose. Analysis was performed on 10 data sets from four Water Survey of Canada gauging stations in order to evaluate the relative contribution of a range of error sources to the total estimated uncertainty. The factors that differed among data sets included the fraction of unmeasured discharge relative to the total discharge, flow nonuniformity, and operator decisions about instrument programming and measurement cross section. As anticipated, it was found that the estimated uncertainty is dominated by uncertainty of the discharge in the unmeasured areas, highlighting the importance of appropriate selection of the site, the instrument, and the user inputs required to estimate the unmeasured discharge. The main contributor to uncertainty was invalid data, but spatial inhomogeneity in water velocity and bottom-track velocity also contributed, as did variation in the edge velocity, uncertainty in the edge distances, edge coefficients, and the top and bottom extrapolation methods. To a lesser extent, spatial inhomogeneity in the bottom depth also contributed to the total uncertainty, as did uncertainty in the ADCP draft at shallow sites. The estimated uncertainties from QUant can be used to assess the adequacy of standard operating procedures. They also provide quantitative feedback to the ADCP operators about the quality of their measurements, indicating which parameters are contributing most to uncertainty, and perhaps even highlighting ways in which uncertainty can be reduced. Additionally, QUant can be used to account for self-dependent error sources such as heading errors, which are a function of heading. The results demonstrate the importance of a Monte Carlo method tool such as QUant for quantifying random and bias errors when evaluating the uncertainty of moving-boat ADCP measurements.

Publication type Conference Paper
Publication Subtype Abstract or summary
Title Quantifying acoustic doppler current profiler discharge uncertainty: A Monte Carlo based tool for moving-boat measurements
DOI 10.1061/(ASCE)HY.1943-7900.0001249
Volume 143
Issue 3
Year Published 2017
Language English
Contributing office(s) Office of Surface Water
Description 04016088; 15 p.
Larger Work Title Journal of Hydraulic Engineering
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
Additional publication details