Quantifying uncertainty in acoustic measurements of tidal flows using a 'Virtual' Doppler Current Profiler

George Crossley, Armando Alexandre, Steven Parkinson, Alexander H. Day, Helen C.M. Smith, David M. Ingram

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
12 Downloads (Pure)


Accurate characterisation of flows at tidal sites can enable the developers of tidal stream energy projects to design and model the loads on, and the performance of, tidal energy converters. Acoustic Doppler technology is versatile in the measurement of sea conditions; however, this technology can be limited in its effectiveness at measuring the small-scale kinematic fluctuations caused by waves and turbulence. A Virtual Doppler Current Profiler (VDCP) is used to sample a simulated tidal flow to understand the limitations of this type of measurement instrument whilst recording the small timescale kinematics of waves and turbulence in tidal currents. Results demonstrate the phase dependency of velocity measurements averaged between two acoustic beams and provide a theoretical error for wave and turbulence characteristics sampled under a range of conditions. Spectral moments of the subsurface longitudinal wave orbital velocities recorded by the VDCP can be between 0.1 and 9 times those measured at a point for certain turbulent current conditions, turbulence intensity measurements may vary between 0.2 and 1.5 times the inputted value in low wave conditions and turbulence length scale calculation can also vary hugely dependent on both current and wave conditions. The continuation of this work will enable effective comparison of a linear model for tidal flow kinematics against field measurements from UK tidal site data, and subsequently validate numerical models for the testing of tidal turbines.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)404-416
Number of pages13
JournalOcean Engineering
Early online date19 Apr 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2017


  • wave
  • current
  • turbulence
  • interaction
  • validation
  • loads


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