Fjordic coastlines provide sheltered locations for finfish and shellfish aquaculture, and are often subject to harmful algal blooms (HABs) some of which develop offshore and are then advected to impact nearshore aquaculture. Numerical models are a potentially important tool for providing early warning of such HAB events. However, the complex topography of fjordic shelf regions is a significant challenge to modelling. This is frequently compounded by complex bathymetry and local weather patterns. Existing structured grid models do not provide the resolution needed to represent these coastlines in their wider shelf context. In a number of locations advectively transported blooms of the ichthyotoxic dinoflagellate Karenia mikimotoi are of particular concern for the finfish industry. Here were present a novel hydrodynamic model of the coastal waters to the west of Scotland that is based on unstructured finite volume methodology, providing a sufficiently high resolution hydrodynamical structure to realistically simulate the transport of particles (such as K. mikimotoi cells) within nearshore waters where aquaculture sites are sited. Model–observation comparisons reveal close correspondence of tidal elevations for major semidiurnal and diurnal tidal constituents. The thermohaline structure of the model and its current fields are also in good agreement with a number of existing observational datasets. Simulations of the transport of Lagrangian drifting buoys, along with the incorporation of an individual-based biological model, based on a bloom of K. mikimotoi, demonstrate that unstructured grid models have considerable potential for HAB prediction in Scotland and in complex topographical regions elsewhere
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