Documentation for PISM, the Parallel Ice Sheet Model

NEWS: EGU Early Career Award for PISM-author Ricarda Winkelmann

PISM 0.7

The Parallel Ice Sheet Model pism0.7 is open source and capable of high resolution. It is widely adopted as a tool for doing science. Features include:

Application of the Month

June 2017

Glacial erratic boulders in the Rhone Valley north of the Alps, which have intrigued scientists for two centuries, have characteristic lithologies which can be matched to source regions in the mountains. This study uses their locations, plus the maximum extent of the ice sheet (e.g. moraine mapping), to constrain a PISM model (Becker et al 2016) of the ice flow around the time of the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM, ~24ka b.p.). The 1 km grid, physically-comprehensive model, which includes membrane-stress-balanced sliding, polythermal thermodynamics, and earth deformation, generates the evolving ice geometry and velocity fields. The boulders are modeled as tracers within the time-dependent flow.

The dominant flow fields in the Valley, including the distinctive erratics signature of the northeastern Solothurn ice sheet lobe, turn out to be insensitive to sliding parameters and bed elevation in the model. Instead, the authors are able to infer the paleo-climatic conditions responsible for the transport routes of the erratics. They show that only one tested precipitation pattern allows boulders to be (correctly) diverted into the Solothurn lobe during the LGM. This precipitation pattern supports, but suggests additional detail in, an existing theory of preferential moisture advection during the LGM.

A spectacular video of a full simulation of the ice sheet, over the entire 120ka ice age cycle, is at co-author J. Seguinot's website.

2017/06/15 18:29 · Ed Bueler

Latest News

Study of Juneau Ice Field in Cambridge Core news

A recent PISM application Ziemen et al (2016) is covered by a news item in Cambridge Core news.

The 4000 square km ice field in Southeast Alaska is well-known and accessible since its outlets are in the suburbs of the Alaska state capital, Juneau. But climate data for the area are sparse.

Those model runs that agreed well with observations for 1971 to 2010 generated volume and area losses of more than half by 2099. While co-author Regine Hock (UAF) is quoted as saying “The massive icefield that feeds Alaska’s Mendenhall Glacier may be gone by 2200 if warming trend predictions hold true,”, the authors emphasize that spatially-distributed mass balance measurements and improved climate projections that resolve the local temperature and precipitation patterns are essential to solidifying these predictions.

2016/10/06 14:26 · Ed Bueler

Reminder for authors of PISM-using papers

Please acknowledge the funding that makes PISM possible, and which supports its continued maintenance and technical support. Include the sentence “Development of PISM is supported by NASA grants NNX13AM16G and NNX13AK27G.” in the Acknowledgments part of your paper.

If authors do this consistently then it will help to ensure continued funding of PISM!

For specific suggestions on how to cite the design or justification of PISM see this page.

2016/08/18 11:44 · Ed Bueler

PostDoc in ice sheet and climate modelling at AWI Bremerhaven, Germany

The Paleoclimate Dynamics section at Alfred-Wegener-Institut invites applications for a position as a

PostDoc scientist

with a background in ice sheet or climate modelling for the DFG-project “Global sea level change since the Mid Holocene” (SPP 1889).

Background and tasks:

The aim of this project is to study the evolution of polar ice sheets of the last 6000 years and to estimate the role of climate – ice sheet interactions. Combining climate and ice sheet simulations of different resolution, the project particularly focusses on the ice sheets' mass balance and on ice shelf – ocean interactions under natural and anthropogenic climate change.

The postdoc’s duties will include set-up, supervision, and analysis of climate and ice sheet (PISM) simulations as well as publication in peer-reviewed journals.


The successful candidate should have a PhD in glaciology, atmospheric sciences, oceanography or related sciences and should have a background in either ice sheet or climate modelling.

The position is limited to 3 years, starting August 1st, 2016 or later. The salary will be paid in accordance with the German Tarifvertrag des öffentlichen Dienstes (TVöD Bund), salary level 13. The place of employment will be Bremerhaven.

For further information:

2016/06/15 07:49 · Ed Bueler


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, NNX16AQ40G, NNX17AG65G) and by NSF grants PLR-1603799 and PLR-1644277.

home.txt · Last modified: 2017/09/18 13:32 by Ed Bueler
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