A variable mesh finite element model of the Irish and Celtic Sea regions with/without the inclusion of the Mersey estuary is used to examine the influence of grid resolution and the Mersey upon the higher harmonics of the tide in the region. Comparisons are made with observations and published results from finite difference models of the area. Although including a high resolution representation of the Mersey had little effect upon computed tides in the western Irish Sea it had a significant effect upon tidal currents in the eastern Irish Sea. In addition the higher harmonics of the M-2 tide in near-shore regions of the eastern Irish Sea particularly the Solway and Mersey estuary together with Morecambe Bay showed significant small scale variability. The Mersey was used to test the sensitivity to including estuaries because high resolution accurate topography was available. The results presented here suggest that comparable detailed topographic data sets are required in all estuaries and near-shore regions. In addition comparisons clearly show the need for an unstructured grid model of the region that can include all the estuaries. Such an unstructured grid solution was developed here within a finite element approach, although other methods in particular the finite volume, or coordinate transformations/curvilinear grids and nesting could be applied. (C) 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserve
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