Articles | Volume 5, issue 1
Geosci. Instrum. Method. Data Syst., 5, 151–162, 2016
Geosci. Instrum. Method. Data Syst., 5, 151–162, 2016

Research article 20 May 2016

Research article | 20 May 2016

Practical considerations for enhanced-resolution coil-wrapped distributed temperature sensing

Koen Hilgersom1, Tim van Emmerik1, Anna Solcerova1, Wouter Berghuijs2, John Selker3, and Nick van de Giesen1 Koen Hilgersom et al.
  • 1Water Resources Section, Faculty of Civil Engineering and Geosciences, Delft University of Technology, Delft, P.O. Box 5048, 2600 GA, the Netherlands
  • 2Department of Civil Engineering, University of Bristol, Bristol, University Walk, BS8 1TR, UK
  • 3Department of Biological and Ecological Engineering, Oregon State University, Corvallis, 116 Gilmore Hall, OR 97331, USA

Abstract. Fibre optic distributed temperature sensing (DTS) is widely applied in Earth sciences. Many applications require a spatial resolution higher than that provided by the DTS instrument. Measurements at these higher resolutions can be achieved with a fibre optic cable helically wrapped on a cylinder. The effect of the probe construction, such as its material, shape, and diameter, on the performance has been poorly understood. In this article, we study data sets obtained from a laboratory experiment using different cable and construction diameters, and three field experiments using different construction characteristics. This study shows that the construction material, shape, diameter, and cable attachment method can have a significant influence on DTS temperature measurements. We present a qualitative and quantitative approximation of errors introduced through the choice of auxiliary construction, influence of solar radiation, coil diameter, and cable attachment method. Our results provide insight into factors that influence DTS measurements, and we present a number of solutions to minimize these errors. These practical considerations allow designers of future DTS measurement set-ups to improve their environmental temperature measurements.

Short summary
Fibre optic distributed temperature sensing allows one to measure temperature patterns along a fibre optic cable with resolutions down to 25 cm. In geosciences, we sometimes wrap the cable to a coil to measure temperature at even smaller scales. We show that coils with narrow bends affect the measured temperatures. This also holds for the object to which the coil is attached, when heated by solar radiation. We therefore recommend the necessity to carefully design such distributed temperature probes.