Development of a Community Ice Sheet Model

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Ice surface velocity (modeled) draped over ice surface elevation. These data and more can be found in the Data pages. This visual was produced with Unidata's [IDV], which works well with our file format.

National Science Foundation Grant NSF-IPY 0632161 “IPY: Collaborative Research: Development of a Community Ice Sheet Model with Specific Applications to Abrupt Change in the Amundsen Sea Embayment” Primary Investigator Jesse Johnson Co-investigators: Christina Hulbe, Joel Henry, Martin L. Barett, Slawek Tulaczyk, Dacian Deascu, William Robertson, and Cheryl Seals. This collaborative research effort is to carry out novel predictive modeling experiments on the Amundsen Sea Embayment region of Antarctica. Specifically, we seek to understand how interactions between basal processes and ice sheet dynamics can result in abrupt reconfigurations of ice-sheets, and how those reconfigurations impact other Earth systems, such as atmospheres and oceans. The proposed research is distinctive in that we recognize that advancement of ice-sheet modeling is dependent upon appropriate advances in outreach and software design. As such we have assembled a team of glaciologists (Johnson, Hulbe, Tulaczyk), software engineers (Henry, Barrett), a numerical analyst (Daescu), and education/human computer interaction (Seals, Robertson).

More recently, several Department of Energy (DOE) programs have begun contributing to the development of the Community Ice Sheet Model (CISM). The Office of Biological and Environmental Research (BER) is supporting model development through various grants awarded to the Climate Ocean and Sea Ice Modeling (COSIM) group at the Los Alamos National Laboratory and through the IMPACTS project. DOE's Advanced Scientific Computing Research (ASCR) program is also supporting CISM development through the SCiDAC ISICLES initiative.

The broader goal of the research is to increase participation in ice sheet modeling by improving the community's capacity to

  1. access and utilize the present generation of ice sheet models.
  2. improve the quality of ice sheet models both in terms of the scientific merit of the modeling approach and the quality of the underlying software.
  3. understand the outcome of ice sheet modeling experiments.



Find the software developed as part of this effort. This includes the Interactive System for Ice sheet Simulation (ISIS), a version with a simplified interface for high school educators (eduISIS) and the Community Ice Sheet Model (CISM).


Tools for communicating ice sheet science with others.

Community Activities

Efforts to creating a community structure for advancing ice sheet modeling.


Background on ice sheet modeling, information about the models, tutorials on usage, FAQ, etc.


Data for conducting investigations with ice sheet models.