Documentation for PISM, a parallel Ice Sheet Model

NEWS: GMD Discussion paper describes PISM's mass conserving subglacial hydrology models.

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

May 2014

Click the image to go to the Journal of Glaciology page.

Resolution-dependent performance of grounding line motion in a shallow model compared with a full-Stokes model according to the MISMIP3d intercomparison
investigators: J. Feldmann, T. Albrecht, C. Khroulev, F. Pattyn, and A. Levermann
journal: J. Glaciol.

By using MISMIP3d simulations across a range of resolutions, this paper shows that the SIA+SSA hybrid stress balance in PISM can model grounding line motion in a perturbed ice-sheet–shelf system. The key improvements, all included in pism0.6, are: linear interpolation of the grounding line, locally-interpolated basal friction, and an improved driving-stress computation across the grounding line. The reversibility of the grounding line, after a local perturbation of basal resistance comes and goes, is captured by the model even at medium and low horizontal resolutions (> 10 km). The transient model response is qualitatively-similar to that of higher-order models, though with higher sensitivity to perturbations on very short timescales. Our findings support the application of PISM to the Antarctic ice sheet from regional up to continental scales and even at relatively-low spatial resolutions.

2014/04/30 09:19 · Ed Bueler

Latest News

Ice plug prevents irreversible discharge from East Antarctica

In a just-published Nature Climate Change article, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research authors Matthias Mengel and Anders Levermann use PISM to define the “ice-plug” which, if removed from the coastal ice in the Wilkes Basin of East Antarctica, would initiate irreversible retreat of the grounded ice in that basin. The modeled retreats, which occur on a time scale of a few thousand years, generate 3–4 m of sea level rise from the region surrounding the basin. Thus this basin is a potential “tipping-point” ice sheet configuration, in additional to the better-known West Antarctica configurations.

For the PISM user this paper is an indication of its ability to model an ice sheet region (hashed in figure) at high resolution across a range of ice dynamics parameters and climate forcing choices.

2014/05/05 11:35 · Ed Bueler

PISM stable0.6 is out

See the stable version page to check out a copy of the PISM stable0.6 source code. If you have already checked out the prerelease version, just do git pull and then make install in your build directory. Send email to for help with any version of PISM.

Changes since stable0.5 include

Basal strength and basal hydrology

Click here to see the list

Marine ice sheet modeling

Click here to see the list

Climate inputs and ocean inputs

Click here to see the list

Inverse modeling tools are a part of this release

Please see the PISM's Python Documentation.

Energy and mass model improvements

Click here to see the list

Improved User's Manual examples

Click here to see the list


Click here to see the list

Under the hood

Click here to see the list

2014/02/13 18:18 · Constantine Khroulev

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: 2014/07/29 10:30 by Andy Aschwanden
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