Basic applications

What is PISM used for?

Photo: T. Albrecht

Model description papers

PISM is continuously developed. Important model components and improvements as well as their description comprise for example:

Ice-sheet dynamics

Graphic: J. Garbe

Using PISM, major advances in the understanding and model representation of key physical processes, which control the behavior of ice sheets, have been made. Examples include:

Sea-level projections

Source: Edwards et al. (2021)

The ice sheets on Greenland and Antartica are the largest freshwater reservoirs with a combined sea-level rise potential of more than 65 meters. Their mass loss and future contributions to sea-level rise in response to different scenarios of changing atmospheric and oceanic conditions can be determined by applying PISM, as previously accomplished by e.g.:

Glacial cycle simulations

Source: Albrecht et al. (2020b)

Long-term model simulations are helpful for the reconstruction of the glacial-interglacial history of the Earth’s ice sheets. Thereby, a better understanding of a dynamic threshold behavior and sea-level change in the past but also in the future can be gained. For the Antarctic Ice Sheet, an ensemble of glacial-cycle simulations in order to constrain paleo parameter sensitivities and boundary conditions has, for example, been performed using PISM by:

Long-term stability of ice sheets

Source: Modified after Garbe et al. (2020)

Several positive and negative feedback mechanisms may impact the stability of ice sheets on long timescales. Examples include the positive surface-melt-elevation feedback or the negative isostatic solid-Earth rebound effect. When crossing critical thresholds, irreversible ice loss may follow. The overall effect of the interplay between the various feedback mechanisms in the long term has been assessed by means of PISM among others by:

Coupling to other Earth system components

Source: Modified after Zwally et al. (2015)

Ice sheets interact with other Earth system components, such as the atmosphere or the ocean. To take into account and study related feedback mechanisms as well as their effect on the dynamics of the Greenland and Antartic ice sheets, PISM has been coupled to other Earth system components:

Model intercomparisons

PISM has participated in numerous model intercomparison projects (MIPs). For a more complete list, please see MIPs & Collaborations.

Latest news

PISM 2.0 is out

PISM developers have been hard at work to bring you a brand new version of PISM, packed with new features. After years of development, PISM finally includes a Blatter solver, warranting a new major version: PISM 2.0.

Version 1.2

We are pleased to announce the release of the Parallel Ice Sheet Model (PISM) v1.2.

MPI-M Hamburg, Germany: open postdoc for coupled atmosphere-ocean-ice sheet model

The Max Planck Institute for Meteorology (MPI-M) contributes to the BMBF project “From the Last Interglacial to the Anthropocene: Modeling a Complete Glacial Cycle” (PalMod,, which aims at simulating the climate from the peak of the last interglacial up to the present using comprehensive Earth System Models. Phase II of this project has an open position Postdoctoral Scientist (W073). The successful candidate will be part of a local team performing and analysing long-term transient simulations covering the last glacial and the transition into the Holocene with an interactively coupled atmosphere-ocean-ice sheet model. Additionally, the candidate will contribute to the continued development of this model. The model system consists of the MPI-Earth system model, the ice sheet model PISM, and the solid-earth model VILMA.