Documentation for PISM, a parallel Ice Sheet Model

NEWS: Postdoc for ESM/PISM modeler (MPI-M Hamburg)

The Parallel Ice Sheet Model pism0.7 is an open source, parallel, high-resolution ice sheet model. Features:

  • hierarchy of shallow 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

June 2015


Thickness of subglacial water in “routing” model. Click the image to go to GMD page.

Mass-conserving subglacial hydrology in the Parallel Ice Sheet Model v0.6
investigator: E. Bueler and W. van Pelt
journal: Geoscientific Model Development

This paper describes and tests a major extension of PISM, introduced in v0.6 and fully-supported in v0.7, a two-horizontal-dimension subglacial hydrology model which combines till with a distributed system of water-filled, linked cavities. This sub-model accomplishes three specific goals: (1) conservation of the mass of water, (2) simulation of spatially- and temporally-variable basal shear stress from physical mechanisms based on a minimal number of free parameters, and (3) convergence under grid refinement. Besides a broad approach to the source of the model equations and detailed attention to the implementation and testing of the numerics, this paper demonstrates the model at scale by modeling the whole Greenland ice sheet at 2 km horizontal resolution, with one million nodes in the hydrology grid. But the model is far from complete. It both takes a very conservative approach to coupling hydrology to a model for basal shear, and it does not include the physics which determines the location and evolution of subglacial conduits.

2015/06/03 18:05 · Ed Bueler

Latest News

Summer time

It's summer time! UAF PISM developers are currently writing proposals, working on their own projects, and enjoying the summer. Please give us some slack responding to questions, bug reports, etc. We will try to fix serious bugs as quickly as possible . We'll be back at full strength in the Fall.

2015/06/23 12:17 · Andy Aschwanden

PISM version 0.7 and PETSc 3.6

PETSc 3.6 was released on June 9, 2016. We are currently working on making PISM compatible with PETSc 3.6 and will announce it here as soon as possible.

In the meantime, please install petsc 3.5.4 from here. PISM version 0.7 (stable0.7 branch) works with any PETSc 3.5.X.

2015/06/16 09:47 · Andy Aschwanden

PISM version 0.7 is out

Major PISM release

This release has substantial changes to the code base, but users will not see large differences. The goal of most code changes is to improve maintainability, and our speed in fixing bugs and adding features, so we ask users to update from v0.6 unless they have a good reason against it.

If you already have a git repo for pism then upgrade by doing

git fetch origin
git checkout stable0.7

in the PISM source tree. (Or get a new tagged .tar.gz or .zip at Then do

make install

in the build directory.

The install directions in, included in the source release, should help with installation errors, but there is also an Installation Manual. Feel free to email with installation questions; please include the failed commands and the error message(s).

Lists below give user-visible changes. For a full list of changes since v0.6, please see in the source release.

Installation changes

Click here to see the list

New physical model features

Click here to see the list

New and renamed diagnostics

Click here to see the list

Changes which might break run scripts

Click here to see the list

Getting more help

Please send email to for help with any version of PISM.

2015/05/12 19:07 · Ed Bueler

PISM team

PISM is jointly developed at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks (UAF) and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK). For more about the team see the UAF Developers and PIK Developers pages.

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: 2015/08/27 08:56 by Ed Bueler
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