Frequently asked questions

FAQs and PISM life hacks

Photo: J.-M. Nasse / imaggeo

How do I visualize PISM results?


For a quick view into PISM’s NetCDF output files, Ncview is a useful tool.


Some recommendations for Python packages that allow easy plotting of NetCDF datasets are listed below:

For a list of more useful Python plotting tools, see here.


See repos and resources for more information.


Panoply is a cross-platform NetCDF data viewer actively developed by NASA and more comprehensive than Ncview (requires Java).

Color tables

Here’s a link collection to some nice color maps:

  • Scientific colour maps by Fabio Crameri: perceptually uniform, readable both by colour-vision deficient and colour-blind people, citable & reproducible
  • cmocean: Perceptually uniform beautiful color maps for oceanography
  • ColorBrewer: Color advice for cartography

For even more scale color tables, J.J. Green’s cpt-city website includes countless color palettes in various file formats.

How do I install PISM on a High Performance Computer?

Scripts that help build PISM and its prerequisites (such as PETSc) on some HPC system are provided here.

How do I prepare real data for input to PISM?

This page lists resources that can help you prepare input data for Antarctic, Greenland and Arctic PISM applications.

Furthermore, command line tools

are useful for manipulating data in the NetCDF format.

See Regridding with CDO for a good overview of regridding (interpolation between different grids) using CDO.

How do I report a bug in PISM?

Please see the Issue tracking at github to check if someone already found a similar bug. You can post an issue there, and label it as a bug, if it is new. For more information, see here.

How do I cite PISM in a publication that uses it?

See the information given here.

PISM’s stress balance solver failed. What do I do?

This page gives more information on this.

How do I create a parameter ensemble of PISM simulations?

For an example for Antarctica, see the pism-ensemble.

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.