• cross section;
  • ground penetrating radar;
  • Hilbert–Huang transform;
  • hydrological measurement;
  • stream


This study presents a new method to measure stream cross section without having contact with water. Compared with conventional measurement methods which apply instruments such as sounding weight, ground penetration radar (GPR), used in this study, is a non-contact measurement method. This non-contact measurement method can reduce the risk to hydrologists when they are conducting measurements, particularly in high flow period. However, the original signals obtained by using GPR are very complex, different from studies in the past where the measured data were mostly interpreted by experts with special skill or knowledge of GPR so that the results obtained were less objective. This study employs Hilbert–Huang transform (HHT) to process GPR signals which are difficult to interpret by hydrologists. HHT is a newly developed signal processing method that can not only process the nonlinear and non-stationary complex signals, but also maintain the physical significance of the signal itself. Using GPR with HHT, this study establishes a non-contact stream cross-section measurement method with the ability to measure stream cross-sectional areas precisely and quickly. Also, in comparison with the conventional method, no significant difference in results is found to exist between the two methods, but the new method can considerably reduce risk, measurement time, and manpower. It is proven that the non-contact method combining GPR with HHT is applicable to quickly and accurately measure stream cross section. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.