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BISICLES for Ice Sheet in Climate applications


Schematic showing computed ice velocity for Antarctica (right), and (left) meshing and grounding line location for the Pine Island Glacier.

Recent observations show that the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets are losing mass at increasing rates. If recent trends continue, ice sheets will make a dominant contribution to the 21st century sea-level rise (SLR), far exceeding the projections of the IPCC's Fourth Assessment Report, AR4. Growing ice mass losses not only could raise sea level, but also could affect other parts of the climate system, such as the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation and its associated poleward heat transport, through increased freshwater discharge to high-latitude oceans.

The dynamics of ice sheets span a wide range of scales. Correctly resolving the dynamics of localized regions, such as grounding lines and ice stream shear margins, requires extremely fine resolution (better than 1 km in places). In particular, resolving the dynamics of the grounding line (where the land-based ice sheet meets the ocean and begins to float) is critical to understanding the dynamics of the ice sheet. Modeling an entire continental-scale ice sheet at such resolutions is impractical or impossible with current computational resources. At the same time, such fine resolution is unnecessary over large dynamically quiescent regions, which makes ice sheet modeling an ideal candidate for adaptive mesh refinement (AMR).

BISICLES is a scalable AMR ice sheet modeling code built on the Chombo framework and is a part of the Community Ice Sheet Model (CISM). With a dynamical core based on the vertically-integrated model of Schoof and Hindmarsh (2011), BISICLES can resolve dynamically important regions at the sub-kilometer scale while using much coarser resolution where appropriate. BISICLES is a part of the PISCEES (Predicting Ice Sheet and Climate Evolution at Extreme Scales) ASCR-BER Scidac Applications Partnership.

ANAG Members


  • Esmond Ng (LBNL)
  • Sam Williams (LBNL)
  • Stephen Cornford, Antony Payne (University of Bristol)
  • William Lipscomb, Stephen Price, Douglas Ranken (Los Alamos National Laboratory)