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

November 2014

Three cross sections (north, center, south) through the modeled initial states, at a 5 km resolution. Click the image to go to Journal of Glaciology journal.

Role of model initialization for projections of 21st-century Greenland ice sheet mass loss
investigators: G. Adalgeirsdottir and 6 others
journal: J. Glaciol.

This paper assesses the sensitivity of projections of Greenland ice sheet contribution to 21st-century sea-level rise to the model initial state. Four initialization methods are applied using PISM. The simulated contribution to sea-level rise by 2100 ranges from an equivalent of 0.2 to 6.8 cm. The largest uncertainties arise from different formulations of the regional climate models (0.8–3.9 cm) and applied scenarios (0.65–1.9 cm), but an important source of uncertainty is the initialization method (0.1–0.8 cm). These model simulations do not account for the recently observed acceleration of outlet glaciers and consequent thinning rates, ocean forcing, or the feedback occurring between ice-sheet elevation changes and climate forcing. These results should be considered a lower limit of Greenland ice sheet contributions to sea-level rise, until such processes have been integrated into large-scale ice-sheet models.

2014/11/01 17:53 · Ed Bueler

Latest News

Mass-conserving subglacial hydrology in PISM

In a Geoscientific Model Development Discussion paper, UAF author Ed Bueler and IMAU author Ward Van Pelt describe PISM's new mass conserving subglacial hydrology models.

For the PISM user with an interest in subglacial hydrology this paper provides a detailed description of all the subglacial hydrology models available in PISM versions v0.6 and above, along with a stability analysis, verification, and an application to the Greenland ice sheet.

2014/07/29 10:27 · Andy Aschwanden

PISM 0.6.1 has bug fixes

Only fixes and improvements that should not break existing functionality are included in this release. We recommend updating from v0.6 unless you have a good reason against it. Upgrade by doing “git pull” in the PISM source tree. (Or get a new tagged “.tar.gz” or “.zip” at Then do “make install” in the build directory.

For a full list of changes since v0.6, please see

Send email to for help with any version of PISM.

2014/05/31 16:48 · 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
© 2015 by PISM | webmaster