Discharge - ADCP (SonTek RiverSurveyor)

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Parameter to be measured:

Discharge, flow velocity, depth



Acoustic Doppler Current Profiling


  • sensor (M9)
  • processing unit (data processing, storage, GPS receiver, communication)
  • GPS antenna
  • platform (raft)


  • high resolution velocity profile of river transect (up to 128 cells)
  • dual frequency sensor covers wide range of depths (0.3 - 40 m)
  • position can be estimated via both bottom tracking and GPS
  • intuitive software for both PC and Windows Mobile
  • measurement continues even when connection is lost
  • configurable options (communication: BT/radio, GPS: GPS/GNSS, platform: low /high velocity/remote controled)
flow velocities


  • platform is quite bulky
  • price

What to watch out for:

  • transversal speed must be lower than flow velocity
  • deeply incised riverbeds and vegetation may strongly impair GPS reception
  • The product basic GPS-setting is advertised as "dGPS", but is merely ordinary SBAS-corrected GPS. True dGPS-solutions (base - rover) do exist, but post processing is not supported. Other GNSS-receivers may be customized with extra hardware.
  • Stratification of temperature and salinity affects the depth measurement. This can be corrected for when a CastAway CTS sensor is used. Import of data otherwise acquired is not supported.
  • The built-in temperature sensor shows strong thermal inertia, ie reacts slowly. In our test, an initial temperature difference of only 4 K (10°C to 6°C) took ~1 hour to equilibrate. The endpoint temperature was still 2 K above conventional measurements.
  • When the sensor is not properly connected to the PCA, the latter appears fully operational, but does not connect via radio.


  • How does sediment concentration affect the measurements?


35000 € with basic GPS option and Hydroboard (2013, Germany)


Projects that used the above equipment:

Other related web sites: