A new instrument to measure plot-scale runoff Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/articles/2v23vz617

This discussion paper has been under review for the journal Geoscientific Instrumentation, Methods and Data Systems (GI). Please refer to the corresponding final paper in GI. The published article is copyrighted by the author(s) and published by Copernicus Publications on behalf of the European Geosciences Union. The published article can be found at:  http://www.geoscientific-instrumentation-methods-and-data-systems.net/

The final revised paper is available at:  http://hdl.handle.net/1957/56517

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  • Accurate measurement of the amount and timing of surface runoff at multiple scales is needed to understand fundamental hydrological processes. At the plot-scale (i.e., length scales on the order of 1 to 10 m) current methods for direct measurement of runoff either store the water in a collection vessel, which is unconducive to long-term monitoring studies, or utilize expensive installations such as large-scale tipping buckets or flume/weir systems. We developed an alternative low-cost, robust and reliable instrument to measure runoff that we call the "Upwelling Bernoulli Tube" (UBeTube). The UBeTube instrument is a pipe with a slot machined in its side that is installed vertically at the base of a runoff collection system. The flow rate through the slot is inferred by measuring the water height within the pipe. The geometry of the slot can be modified to suit the range of flow rates expected for a given site; we demonstrate a slot geometry which is capable of measuring flow rates across more than three orders of magnitude (up to 300 L min⁻¹) while requiring only 30 cm of hydraulic head. System accuracy is dependent on both the geometry of the slot and the accuracy of the water level measurements. With an off-the-shelf pressure transducer sensor, the mean theoretical error for the demonstrated slot geometry was ~17% (ranging from errors of more than 50% at low flow rates to less than 2% at high flow rates), while the observed error during validation was 1–25%. A simple correction factor reduced this mean error to −14%, and further reductions in error could be achieved through the use of taller, narrower slot dimensions (which requires greater head gradients to drive flow) or through more accurate water level measurements. The UBeTube device has been successfully employed in a long-term rainfall-runoff study, demonstrating the ability of the instrument to measure surface runoff across a range of flows and conditions.
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  • Stewart, R. D., Liu, Z., Rupp, D. E., Higgins, C. W., & Selker, J. S. (2014). A new instrument to measure plot-scale runoff. Geoscientific Instrumentation, Methods and Data Systems Discussions, 4, 589-608. doi:10.5194/gid-4-589-2014
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