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Pulse Coherent Doppler Processing and the ADV Correlation Coefficient.

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6837 Nancy Ridge Drive, Suite A • San Diego, CA 92121 • Telephone (619) 546-8327 • Fax (619) 546-8150 • Internet: inquiry@sontek.com

The information presented in this document applies to all SonTek Acoustic Doppler Velocimeter

systems: the 10 MHz ADV, the 5 MHz ADVOcean, and the 16 MHz MicroADV. Each of these

systems use the same signal processing algorithms and record the same type of data; they differ

primarily in the acoustic frequency used and the mechanical packaging of the instrument.

Throughout this document, they are referred to collectively as the ADV.

With each sample, the ADV records nine values: three velocity components, signal strength for

each of three receivers, and correlation coefficient for each of three receivers. Naturally, velocity

data are of primary interest; the other data are used primarily as data quality parameters. Signal

strength is a measure of the strength of the return reflection from the water; it can be accessed as

signal amplitude in internal logarithmic units called counts (1 count = 0.43 dB) or as signal to

noise ratio (SNR) in dB. Correlation coefficient is a quality parameter that is a direct output of

the Doppler velocity calculations.

Correlation is expressed as a percentage: perfect correlation of 100% indicates reliable, low

noise velocity measurements; 0% correlation indicates that output data is dominated by noise

with no coherent signal used for velocity calculations. Correlation is used to monitor data quality

during collection, and to edit data in post processing.

Ideally, correlation should be between 70 and 100%. Values below 70% indicate that the ADV is

operating in a difficult measurement regime, the probe is out of the water, the SNR is too low, or

that something may be wrong with the ADV. In some environments (highly turbulent flow,

aerated water), it may not be possible to achieve high correlation values. Low correlation values

affect the short term variability of velocity data, but do not bias mean velocity measurement. For

mean velocity measurements, correlation values as low as 30% can be used.

The above description provides general guidelines when using the correlation data as a quality

parameter. To understand the exact meaning of the correlation coefficient, and all factors

affecting it, requires a detailed discussion of ADV Doppler processing. An introduction is

provided in this document; additional references are provided at the end.

Pulse Coherent Doppler Processing

The ADV measures velocity using a technique called pulse coherent Doppler processing. The

system sends two short acoustic pulses and samples the return signal from each pulse as it passes

through the sampling volume. Pulse coherent Doppler estimates velocity by measuring the

change in phase of the return signal from two acoustic pulses. To illustrate this, consider the

simplified case of a transmit/receive acoustic transducer and a single acoustic target moving with

speed U relative to the transducer (see figure 1).

Pulse Coherent Doppler Processing and the ADV Correlation Coefficient (November 1997) 1

At time T = 0, the transducer sends a

short pulse. It samples the return

signal at time T = dT, corresponding

to the reflection of the pulse from

the sampling volume. The system

measures the phase of the return

signal, φ1. This phase is a function

of the location X1 of the acoustic

target.

At some time later T = T1, the

transducer sends a second pulse,

identical to the first. It samples the

return from this pulse at time

T = T1 + dT, corresponding to the

return signal of the second pulse

from the sampling volume. The

phase return from the second pulse

is a function of the new location X2 Figure 1 – Pulse Coherent Doppler Measurements

of the acoustic target.

The speed of the target during the time between the two pulses is determined from the measured

phases by the following relation.

U = (X2 - X1) / T1 = λ (φ2 - φ1) / (4 π T1 )

When measuring water velocity, the acoustic return is not the reflection from a single target but

the superposition of the reflections from the many individual particles. These acoustic scatterers

are contained in the ADV sampling volume which is defined by the beam geometry, the transmit

pulse length, and the receive window. If all scatterers maintain their relative positions with

respect to each other, so that the strength and relative phases of the individual reflections do not

change from one pulse to the next, they maintain what is called phase coherency. In this case, the

single reflector analogy applies, and the velocity of the scatterers can be estimated from the phase

measurements.

In general, phase coherency is only partially maintained between the two pulses. The return

signal from the second pulse is not just a phase shifted replica of first return, but contains a

certain amount of random noise. This can be thought of as noise added to the coherent return

signal of each pulse.

S1' = S1 + N1

S2' = S2 + N2

Here S1' and S2' are the return signals from the two pulses, S1 and S2 are the coherent portion of

the signal, and N1 and N2 are the random noise added to each signal. The effect of this noise is to

add a random error to the measured phases, and hence to the measured velocities.

A measure of this noise is the ratio of the coherent signal power to the total power, which can be

expressed by the following relation.

Pulse Coherent Doppler Processing and the ADV Correlation Coefficient (November 1997) 2

Si2 / (Si2 + Ni2 ).

This ratio is the ADV correlation coefficient. For signals with perfect phase coherence, the noise

term is zero and the correlation coefficient is 1 (100%). If the noise is much greater than the

coherent signal, the correlation coefficient approaches 0. The value of the correlation coefficient

is a direct measure of the random errors (Doppler noise) of the velocity data.

In practice, the ADV measures the phase change by comparing the return signals from each pulse

using a complex auto-correlation function. The phase of the complex auto-correlation gives the

phase change of the return signal and hence the velocity, while the normalized magnitude gives

the correlation coefficient. The auto-correlation routine performs the analogous function in the

time domain that a Fourier transform performs in the frequency domain.

The noise in ADV phase measurements is caused by a number of factors, the most important of

which are discussed below. When discussing noise in velocity measurements, we measure the

noise level by the standard deviation of velocity measurements.

Electronics Noise (SNR)

Figure 2 illustrates the effect of Doppler Noise Variation with SNR

electronics noise on the accuracy of 30

25

noise effect is determined by the ratio

Noise Scaling Factor

from the water to the ambient

electronics noise level (signal to noise 15

ratio or SNR). The ADV calculates

SNR by comparing return signal 10

strength from the acoustic pulse to

signal strength when no pulse has 5

been sent.

0

Figure 2 plots the Doppler noise 0 10 20 30 40

SNR (dB)

scaling factor versus SNR. As SNR

decreases below 5 dB, the noise in Figure 2 – Doppler Noise vs. SNR

individual measurements increases by

more than a factor of 20. For SNR values greater than 20 dB, electronics noise has essentially no

impact on velocity measurements as the scale factor asymptotically approaches 1.

For ADV operation, when possible we recommend maintaining a SNR of at least 15 dB for high-

resolution velocity measurements (i.e. sampling at 25 Hz). For mean current measurements (i.e.

sampling at 1.0 Hz), a SNR of as little as 5 dB can be used. When operating in very clear water,

seeding material can be used to increase the SNR.

Residence Time

During the time between the two pulses, some particles will have moved out of the sampling

volume while new particles will have been introduced. The new particles contribute a phase

signal completely unrelated (un-correlated) to the phase of the other particles. Hence the phase

coherence between the two pulses will decrease over a residence time of order (d / U), where d is

Pulse Coherent Doppler Processing and the ADV Correlation Coefficient (November 1997) 3

the typical size of the sampling volume and U is the velocity of the particles. If the residence

time is large with respect to the pulse lag (the time between two pulses), it will have little effect

on velocity measurements. If the residence time is of a similar magnitude to the pulse lag, the

de-correlation can have a significant impact on velocity data.

Sampling Volume Turbulence

Turbulent eddies with spatial scales on the order of the sampling volume size or smaller cause

the scatterers within the sampling volume to have a distribution of velocities. In this

environment, the particles within the sampling volume will not have the same relative positions

for the two pulses. Thus the phase change measured by the ADV (which is the sum of the return

from all particles) will have noise associated with the changing relative locations. The extent to

which the relative positions of particles in the sampling volume changes decreases the correlation

between the two pulses, and increases noise in velocity measurements.

Beam Divergence

Beam divergence results from the fact that the ADV measures the projection of the water velocity

onto the bistatic axis of the acoustic beams. Depending upon the physical location of the

scatterers within the sampling volume, the angle between the 3D water velocity and the

propagation direction of the pulse will change slightly (since the pulse spreads spherically with

distance from the transducer). This change in beam angle causes a distribution of velocities

across the sampling volume. This is analogous to the broadening of the velocity distribution

caused by turbulence, except that the diversity is caused by changes in the beam angle. Like

turbulence effects, the broadening of the velocity distribution caused by beam divergence

contributes to de-correlation and increased noise in velocity measurements.

Estimating Noise Levels

The last three items discussed above (residence time, turbulence, and beam divergence)

contribute to an increased distribution of measured velocities. In the frequency domain, this

appears at the broadening of the spectrum of the return signal. The width of the spectral peak is

known as the Doppler bandwidth (B), and is a fundamental parameter for estimating the noise in

Doppler velocity measurements. Brumley et al (1987, unpublished) estimated the contribution of

each effect to total Doppler bandwidth.

Residence Time: Br = 0.2 U / d

Turbulence: Bt = 2.4 (ε d)(1/3) / λ

Beam Divergence: Bd = 0.84 sin(ω) Uc / λ

Doppler Bandwidth: B2 = Br2 + Bt2 + Bd2

Where:

U = Relative velocity of scatterers

d = Half-power sampling volume width

ε = Turbulent energy dissipation rate

λ = Acoustic wavelength

ω = Two-way, half-power beam width

Uc = Cross-beam velocity component

Pulse Coherent Doppler Processing and the ADV Correlation Coefficient (November 1997) 4

Estimating Doppler noise for a pulse coherent system is a complicated function including pulse

spacing (the time between successive pulses), Doppler bandwidth, and signal to noise ratio.

These predictions are accurate only for idealized Doppler systems with continuous sampling of

the return signal and infinite resolution. For practical systems, they provide at best a lower

bound for instrument noise level.

The most important consideration for detailed analysis of ADV data is that noise in velocity data

is proportional to the Doppler bandwidth B. Low correlation values are an indication of

increased Doppler bandwidth, and hence increased noise levels in the data.

References

Although there are many papers on the subject of Doppler processing, we do not know of any

that deal specifically with the subject of pulse coherent Doppler processing and the correlation

coefficient in the context of acoustic Doppler systems. The list below gives a few papers related

to this subject.

R. Cabrera, K. Deines, B. Brumley, and E. Terray, “Development of a practical coherent

acoustic Doppler current profiler,” Proc. of the IEEE Fourth Working Conference on Current

Measurement, Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, New York City, pp. 93-97,

1987.

techniques,” J. Atmos. and Ocean. Tech., Vol. 1, No. 4, pp. 293-308, 1984.

K.S. Miller and M.M. Rochwarger, “A covariance approach to spectral moment estimation,”

IEEE Trans. on Info. Theory, Vol. IT-18, No. 5, pp. 588-596, 1972.

L. Zedel, A.E. Hay, R. Cabrera, and A. Lohrmann, “Performance of a single beam, pulse-to-

pulse coherent Doppler profiler,” IEEE Journal of Oceanic Engineering, No. 21, pp. 290-

297, 1996.

D.S. Zrnic, “Spectral moment estimates from correlated pulse pairs,” IEEE Trans. on Aerosp.

and Electron. Systems, Vol. AES-13, pp. 344-354, 1977.

Pulse Coherent Doppler Processing and the ADV Correlation Coefficient (November 1997) 5

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