Documentation for PISM, a parallel Ice Sheet Model

NEWS: PISM version 0.7 is out

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

May 2015


Erosion potential shown in color. Click the image to go to Antarctic Science page.

Selective erosion beneath the Antarctic Peninsula Ice Sheet during LGM retreat
investigator: N. Golledge
journal: Antarctic Science

This paper uses PISM to investigate how the last glacial maximum Antarctic Peninsula Ice Sheet might have modified its bed both at maximum extent and during progressive grounding line retreat. The work exploits high-resolution whole-Antarctic modelling by the same author (Golledge et al 2013, Golledge et al 2014). PISM results are post-processed to compute an erosion potential which is proportional to the product of modeled basal shear stress and sliding velocity. The results show that peak subglacial erosion rates are preferentially located in areas of convergent flow and where horizontal strain rates are highest, leading to deepening of subglacial basins in such locations. Because the ice sheet selectively erodes its bed beneath outlets, over successive glacial cycles erosional deepening may accelerate the retreat of the ice sheet margin during periods of rising sea level.

2015/05/02 09:56 · 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 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: 2015/05/13 18:32 by Ed Bueler
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