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Discharge estimation from H-ADCP measurements in a tidal river subject to sidewall effects and a mobile bed

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Abstract

[1] Horizontal acoustic Doppler current profilers (H-ADCPs) can be employed to estimate river discharge based on water level measurements and flow velocity array data across a river transect. A new method is presented that accounts for the dip in velocity near the water surface, which is caused by sidewall effects that decrease with the width to depth ratio of a channel. A boundary layer model is introduced to convert single-depth velocity data from the H-ADCP to specific discharge. The parameters of the model include the local roughness length and a dip correction factor, which accounts for the sidewall effects. A regression model is employed to translate specific discharge to total discharge. The method was tested in the River Mahakam, representing a large river of complex bathymetry, where part of the flow is intrinsically three-dimensional and discharge rates exceed 8000 m3 s−1. Results from five moving boat ADCP campaigns covering separate semidiurnal tidal cycles are presented, three of which are used for calibration purposes, whereas the remaining two served for validation of the method. The dip correction factor showed a significant correlation with distance to the wall and bears a strong relation to secondary currents. The sidewall effects appeared to remain relatively constant throughout the tidal cycles under study. Bed roughness length is estimated at periods of maximum velocity, showing more variation at subtidal than at intratidal time scales. Intratidal variations were particularly obvious during bidirectional flow conditions, which occurred only during conditions of low river discharge. The new method was shown to outperform the widely used index velocity method by systematically reducing the relative error in the discharge estimates.

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