Orienting the camera and firing lasers to enhance large scale particle image velocimetry for streamflow monitoring

Flavia Tauro, Maurizio Porfiri, Salvatore Grimaldi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Large scale particle image velocimetry (LSPIV) is a nonintrusive methodology for continuous surface flow monitoring in natural environments. Recent experimental studies demonstrate that LSPIV is a promising technique to estimate flow discharge in riverine systems. Traditionally, LSPIV implementations are based on the use of angled cameras to capture extended fields of view; images are then orthorectified and calibrated through the acquisition of ground reference points. As widely documented in the literature, the identification of ground reference points and image orthorectification are major hurdles in LSPIV. Here we develop an experimental apparatus to address both of these issues. The proposed platform includes a laser system for remote frame calibration and a low-cost camera that is maintained orthogonal with respect to the water surface to minimize image distortions. We study the feasibility of the apparatus on two complex natural riverine environments where the acquisition of ground reference points is prevented and illumination and seeding density conditions are challenging. While our results confirm that velocity estimations can be severely affected by inhomogeneously seeded surface tracers and adverse illumination settings, they demonstrate that LSPIV implementations can benefit from the proposed apparatus. Specifically, the presented system opens novel avenues in the development of stand-alone platforms for remote surface flow monitoring.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7470-7483
Number of pages14
JournalWater Resources Research
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2014


  • Camera is oriented with its axis perpendicular to the water surface
  • Field of view calibration through a system of lasers
  • LSPIV accuracy is improved by relating velocity data to tracer density

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology


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