Dams are important for flood mitigation, water supply, and hydroelectricity. Every dam has a water conveyance structure, such as a spillway, to safely release extreme floods when needed. The flows down spillways are often self-aerated and spillway design has typically been investigated in laboratory experiments, which is due to limitations in suitable full scale flow measurement instrumentation and safety considerations. Prototype measurements of aerated flows are urgently needed to quantify potential scale effects and to provide missing validation data for design guidelines and numerical simulations. Herein, an image-based analysis of free-surface flows on a stepped spillway was conducted from a top-view perspective at laboratory scale (fixed camera installation) and prototype scale (drone footage). The drone videos were obtained from citizen science data. Analyses allowed to remotely estimate the location of the inception point of free-surface aeration, air–water surface velocities, and their fluctuations, as well as the residual energy at the downstream end of the chute. The laboratory results were successfully validated against intrusive phase-detection probe data, while the prototype observations provided proof of concept at full scale. This study highlights the feasibility of image-based measurements at prototype spillways. It demonstrates how citizen science data can be used to advance our understanding of real world air–water flow processes and lays the foundations for the remote collection of long-missing prototype data.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited