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Open AccessArticle

Comparison of Acoustic to Optical Backscatter Continuous Measurements of Suspended Sediment Concentrations and Their Characterization in an Agriculturally Impacted River

Canadian Rivers Institute, INRS-ETE, 490 Rue de la Couronne, Québec City, QC G1K 9A9, Canada
Canadian Rivers Institute, School of Environment, Resources and Sustainability, University of Waterloo, 200 University Avenue West, Waterloo, ON N2L 3G1, Canada
Canadian Rivers Institute, Department of Biology, University of Prince Edward Island, 550 University Avenue, Charlottetown, PEI C1A 4P3, Canada
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Water 2019, 11(5), 981;
Received: 19 March 2019 / Revised: 18 April 2019 / Accepted: 8 May 2019 / Published: 10 May 2019
PDF [1880 KB, uploaded 10 May 2019]


The increased soil loss in an agricultural watershed raises challengers for river water quality and a reliable automated monitoring for suspended sediment concentrations (SSC) is crucial to evaluate sediment budgets variation in systems. The aims of this study were (1) to test if an acoustic doppler current profiler (ADCP) would give similar results to turbidity probe measurements as a high frequency monitoring tool for suspended sediment; and (2) to analyze the relationship between sediment drivers and SSC in a typical agricultural drainage basin. The acoustic and optical backscatter sensors were used to collect SSC data during the ice-free seasons of four consecutive years in the Dunk River (PEI, Canada). The slopes of the relationships between the two SSC indirect measurements were not significantly different than 1. Correlations between SSC and hydro-meteorological variables showed that the high SSC values were more associated with the streamflow and water velocity than precipitation. This study highlighted the great potential of ADCP for the continuous monitoring of suspended sediment in an agricultural watershed. For summer periods the prevalence of clockwise hysteresis (74.1% of measured rainstorm events with SSC > 25 mg L−1) appeared related to rainstorm behaviors. View Full-Text
Keywords: turbidity; ADCP; sediment dynamic; agricultural watershed turbidity; ADCP; sediment dynamic; agricultural watershed

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Sirabahenda, Z.; St-Hilaire, A.; Courtenay, S.C.; van den Heuvel, M.R. Comparison of Acoustic to Optical Backscatter Continuous Measurements of Suspended Sediment Concentrations and Their Characterization in an Agriculturally Impacted River. Water 2019, 11, 981.

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