Documentation for PISM, a parallel Ice Sheet Model

NEWS: PISM at AGU 2014

The Parallel Ice Sheet Model pism0.6 is an open source, parallel, high-resolution ice sheet model. Features:

  • hierarchy of available stress balances
  • marine ice sheet physics, dynamic calving fronts
  • polythermal, enthalpy-based conservation of energy scheme
  • subglacial hydrology and till model
  • extensible coupling to atmospheric and ocean models
  • inversion toolbox in Python
  • verification and validation tools
  • complete documentation for users and developers
  • uses MPI and PETSc for parallel simulations
  • reads and writes CF-compliant NetCDF

PISM Application of the Month

January 2015

Click the image to go to The Climate of the Past article page.

Coupled ice sheet–climate modeling under glacial and pre-industrial boundary conditions
investigators: F. Ziemen and others
journal: The Climate of the Past

Modeling Northern Hemisphere glacial conditions using general circulation models (GCMs) in quasi-equilibrium with prescribed ice sheets can lead to inconsistencies between the modeled climate and ice sheets. To avoid this problem, this paper models the ice sheets explicitly, giving the first results from coupled ice sheet–climate simulations for pre-industrial times and the Last Glacial Maximum.

They use the atmosphere–ocean–vegetation GCM ECHAM5/MPIOM/LPJ bidirectionally-coupled with a modified version of PISM 0.3 on a 20 km grid covering the Northern Hemisphere. The model system adequately represents large, non-linear climate perturbations, and the results agree reasonably well with reconstructions and observations. A large part of the drainage of the ice sheets occurs in ice streams which show recurring surges as internal oscillations. The Hudson Strait Ice Stream surges with an ice volume equivalent to about 5 m sea level and a recurrence interval of about 7000 yr, in agreement with basic expectations for Heinrich events.

2015/01/05 09:37 · Ed Bueler

Latest News

PISM v0.6.2 is out

This minor release fixes several bugs and adds PETSc 3.5.x support.

Full list of changes since v0.6.1

If you have questions about installing or using PISM, you can reach UAF developers by sending an e-mail to

2014/11/06 15:22 · Constantine Khroulev

PISM models the Antarctic contribution to meltwater pulse 1A

In a new Nature Communications paper, researchers at Victoria University and the University of New South Wales describe a model study of Antarctic ice sheet evolution over the last 25 kyr using PISM with ocean-forcing inputs from the Earth system model LOVECLIM. They show that when the ocean around Antarctica becomes more stratified, warm water at depth melts the ice sheet faster than when the ocean is less stratified.

The study used a large ensemble of 15 km PISM simulations in a data-constrained mode. In the simulations that best fit a variety of temporal and spatial observations, several episodes of accelerated ice-sheet recession occurred, with the timing of the largest being coincident with meltwater pulse 1A. This episode saw an abrupt rise in global sea level, with an Antarctic contribution of nearly three meters over just a few centuries.

Both this blog entry and this Science Daily news item summarize the work and relate the modeled melt from 14,000 years ago to present-day Antarctic conditions.

2014/10/08 18:16 · Ed Bueler

PISM team

PISM is jointly developed at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks (UAF) and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK). UAF developers, who are in the Glaciers Group at the GI, are supported by NASA's Modeling, Analysis, and Prediction and Cryospheric Sciences Programs (grants NAG5-11371, NNX09AJ38C, NNX13AM16G, NNX13AK27G) and by the Arctic Region Supercomputing Center.

home.txt · Last modified: 2014/12/23 08:53 by Ed Bueler
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