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International Hydrometry Workshop – Recent Advances in Technology & Uncertainty Analysis

In the field of hydrometry there is benefit that arises from global collaboration.

Few monitoring agencies have enough resources needed to invest in wide-ranging discovery of better ways for acquiring and producing streamflow data. However, it is feasible for local centres of expertise to advance any one of many opportunities for significant improvement in the business of water measurement and monitoring.

New Zealand seems to be at the cross-roads for discovery and sharing of new developments in hydrometry.

This is likely not a coincidence. The active geology and diverse climatology interact to produce a wide range of gauging conditions that defy conventional approaches. Continuous adaptation is programmed by the land and the climate into the culture. I would argue there is no better place to hold an international workshop on advances in hydrometry than in Queenstown New Zealand.

The one day workshop was attached to the Water, Infrastructure and the Environment Conference co-hosted by the New Zealand Hydrological Society and Engineers Australia. Techniques discussed included: dilution gauging, flood gauging using surface velocity radar, the rising bubble method, Large Scale Particle Image Velocimetry (LSPIV), Space-Time Image Velocimetry (STIV), hydroacoustic visualization and post-processing, airborne flow measurements, Unmanned Aerial Vehicle surveys, ADCP heligauging, inter-comparison experiments for measuring uncertainty, physical experiments for measurement of uncertainty, and Bayesian approaches for the development of rating curves.

This seems like a lot to cover in the course of a single day, and it is. What makes it manageable is the intimacy of a small group providing close access to leading experts in the world on each topic. However, such a small workshop is a disservice for all of the people in the world who could benefit greatly from this knowledge. In my previous, post I commented that water monitoring agencies don’t allocate budget for sending working level hydrographers to events such as this to interact and share experience.  Globally, we need to better share in the development and implementation of better methods, techniques, technologies, and best practice for a wide range of hydrometric problems.

A key figure in bringing the world together is Jerome Le Coz. He is, in my mind the Chuck Yeager of hydrometry. He is pushing the envelope of conventional limitations on the measurement of water. His research is leading to better understanding of hydrometric uncertainty, developing new methods to actively reduce the uncertainty of extreme flow and to change the way rating curves are developed to better represent expert knowledge and quantify resultant uncertainties.

It was my great pleasure to meet Ichiro Fujita who is leading what I believe to be one of the most important advances in hydrometry in over a century. The use of image processing to measure stream velocity makes it possible to do the impossible, safely measure extreme flow. It is even more remarkable that low-cost consumer technologies can be used to such great effect.

The experimental facility in Korea that Dongsu Kim has been using to investigate discharge measurement technologies is incredible. For example he has been able to quantify the effect of using a hydroacoustic boat in shallow water. The acceleration of water under the boat due to reduced draft over-estimates velocity. This means that when someone tries to minimize their error by reducing the size of the estimated edge panels they can actually be introducing positive bias into their measurement.

Jun Masuda demonstrated some amazing camera technology that is being adapted for use for flow monitoring. The security and counter-terrorism industry is driving the development of technology that is well suited for image based stream gauging. In combination with the algorithms developed by Dr. Ichiro, we will soon see a new era in water monitoring technology.

There is a lot of really good work being done around the world. No one can do it all and so knowledge sharing is crucial for advancing the state of global hydrometry.

Let me know if you are working on a solution for your most frustrating problem. Chances are others are having a similar problem and the best solution may be found by sharing experience.

Photo Credit: Cropped from “Queenstown NZ, #8106” by Tim J Keegan (CC BY-SA 2.0).

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