Instrument: Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler

External Identifier:
» skos:broadMatch

The ADCP measures water currents with sound, using a principle of sound waves called the Doppler effect. A sound wave has a higher frequency, or pitch, when it moves to you than when it moves away. You hear the Doppler effect in action when a car speeds past with a characteristic building of sound that fades when the car passes.
The ADCP works by transmitting "pings" of sound at a constant frequency into the water. (The pings are so highly pitched that humans and even dolphins can't hear them.) As the sound waves travel, they ricochet off particles suspended in the moving water, and reflect back to the instrument. Due to the Doppler effect, sound waves bounced back from a particle moving away from the profiler have a slightly lowered frequency when they return. Particles moving toward the instrument send back higher frequency waves. The difference in frequency between the waves the profiler sends out and the waves it receives is called the Doppler shift. The instrument uses this shift to calculate how fast the particle and the water around it are moving.
Sound waves that hit particles far from the profiler take longer to come back than waves that strike close by. By measuring the time it takes for the waves to bounce back and the Doppler shift, the profiler can measure current speed at many different depths with each series of pings. (More from WHOI instruments listing).