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Development of Software Tools for Efficient Processing of Bathymetry and Discharge Data

Project ID: 3937
Principal Investigator: Daniel Dombroski
Research Topic: Water Resource Data Analysis
Funded Fiscal Years: 2013
Keywords: acoustic doppler current profiler (adcp), bathymetry, hydro-acoustics, geographic information system (gis)

Research Question

How can geospatial data be more efficiently integrated with concurrent hydroacoustic data for improved workflow in bathymetric and discharge studies?

Need and Benefit

Bathymetric surveys are increasingly becoming an integral part of the hydraulic studies that the Bureau of Reclamation is performing for its clients on a regular basis. Detailed bathymetry data is useful in estimating zones of sediment aggradation and degradation in rivers and reservoirs (with implications to reservoir sustainability), tracking channel and bar migration, and for setup and calibration of numerical models.

Reclamation needs to collect depth and velocity data in rivers for numerous habitat and sedimentation investigations. Numerical models of river hydraulics, sediment transport, and vegetation growth and mortality are used to predict river conditions over a range of flows. These models depend on accurate channel bathymetry and flow velocity data.

Using modern acoustic depth-sounding instruments and GPS equipment mounted to a floating raft, a small team of hydraulic engineers can map the bathymetry of 50 or more river miles in a matter of days. The newest generation of acoustic Doppler current profilers (e.g., Sontek RiverSurveyor ADCP) have up to five acoustic beams acquiring spatially distributed samples of water depth, thus greatly increasing the resolution and quality of the data without any increased man-hours in the field.

After the field data-acquisition process is complete, post-processing and integration of data is necessary in order to glean physically-relevant information. The process of relating ADCP data to data from the GPS receiver is unnecessarily time-consuming. This process is performed using GIS tools, and requires approximately a day of processing time per day of field data-acquisition for typical bathymetric studies.

The key investigators for the proposed work have identified methods by which this portion of the data post-processing can be semi-automated through the development of software algorithms. It is estimated that development of this tool would cut the aforementioned portion of the data post-processing time from on the order of 1 staff day down to on the order of 1 hour, thus greatly improving the efficiency of operation.

Engineers at the TSC commonly perform field-based hydraulic studies. In the Sedimentation & River Hydraulics Group, approximately 50% of this field work involves ADCP measurements. The Pacific Northwest Regional Office recently purchased a Sontek RiverSurveyor ADCP for bathymetry and discharge measurements; engineers in the office have echoed the need for a GPS integration and processing tool. Due to the need for bathymetric studies and the advantages of modern ADCP instruments, a growing need for this tool is expected internal and external to Reclamation. A portion of the proposed funding is allotted for working with Reclamation offices outside of the TSC to verify interoperability of the tool between similar ADCP instruments.

There is an additional need identified within this proposal for general refinement of the existing software capabilities and for production of a user manual. Some of the capabilities that have been added to the software thus far have been introduced in somewhat of an ad-hoc fashion, which has led to a less-than-intuitive user interface. Furthermore, the only user manual currently available for the software is very cursory in nature and not inclusive of enhancements introduced thus far. Therefore, a portion of the requested funding is dedicated to software refinement and production of a in-depth user manual.

Contributing Partners


Research Products

Research Products:
1) Fully functional software tool with user interface for efficient processing of ADCP data with GPS data integration.
2) Comprehensive user manual.
3) Dissemination of results and instructional guidance on product application

This information was last updated on April 16, 2014
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