Documentation for PISM, a parallel Ice Sheet Model

NEWS: PISM v0.7.1 adds bug fixes, supports PETSc >= 3.6.1

NEWS: Summer time!

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

March 2015

Click the image to go to Journal of Quaternary Science page.

Testing the sensitivity of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet to Southern Ocean dynamics: past changes and future implications
investigators: C. Fogwill, C. Turney, K. Meissner, N. Golledge, P. Spence, J. Roberts, M. England, R. Jones, and L. Carter
journal: Journal of Quaternary Science

The stability of the Antarctic ice sheet and its contribution to sea level under projected future warming remains highly uncertain. The Last Interglacial (LI; 135–116 ka ago) is a potential analogue for the present period, with sea levels 6.6–9.4 m higher than present, and thus it deserves study. This paper examines a possible source of LI sea-level rise. These authors report on model simulations exploring the effects of migrating Southern Hemisphere Westerlies (SHWs) on Southern Ocean circulation and Antarctic ice-sheet dynamics. The effect on ice dynamics is modeled with PISM, which plays only a supporting role in this work. They conclude that southerly shifts in winds may have significantly impacted the sub-polar gyres, inducing pervasive warming of 0.2–0.8 °C in the upper 1200 m adjacent to sectors of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet (EAIS). Thus the EAIS potentially made a substantial, hitherto unsuspected, contribution to LI sea levels.

2015/03/03 18:02 · Ed Bueler

Latest News

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 at AGU 2014

At the AGU Fall Meeting 2014, PISM simulations and results were featured in a number of posters and oral presentations.


oral presentations

2014/12/23 08:53 · Ed Bueler

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 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: 2015/06/30 09:53 by Constantine Khroulev
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