Also known as
Model type Single
Model part of larger framework
Note on status model
Date note status model
Incorporated models or components:
Spatial dimensions 2D
Spatial extent Global, Continental, Regional-Scale
Model domain Terrestrial, Cryosphere
One-line model description Ice Sheet System Model (ISSM)
Extended model description ISSM is the result of a collaboration between the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and University of California at Irvine. Its purpose is to tackle the challenge of modeling the evolution of the polar ice caps in Greenland and Antarctica.

ISSM is open source and is funded by the NASA Cryosphere, GRACE Science Team, ICESat Research, ICESat-2 Research, NASA Sea-Level Change Team (N-SLCT), IDS (Interdisciplinary Research in Earth Science), ESI (Earth Surface and Interior), and MAP (Modeling Analysis and Prediction) programs, JPL R&TD (Research, Technology and Development) and the National Science Foundation


ice sheet, glacier, sea-level rise, glacial isostatic adjustment, GIA,

Name Eric Larour
Type of contact Model developer
Institute / Organization Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Postal address 1 4800 Oak Grove Drive
Postal address 2
Town / City Pasadena
Postal code 91109
State California
Country United States
Email address
Phone (818) 970-8032

Supported platforms
Linux, Mac OS, Windows
Other platform
Programming language

C++, Python, Java, Matlab

Other program language
Code optimized Multiple Processors
Multiple processors implemented Distributed memory
Nr of distributed processors
Nr of shared processors
Start year development 2005
Does model development still take place? Yes
If above answer is no, provide end year model development
Code development status Active
When did you indicate the 'code development status'? 2020
Model availability As code
Source code availability
(Or provide future intension)
Through web repository
Source web address
Source csdms web address
Program license type Other
Program license type other Three-clause BSD license
Memory requirements varies
Typical run time varies

Describe input parameters geometry of ice sheets, ice shelves, land-ice,

ocean boundaries; material parameters; climate forcings (i.e surface mass balance); basal friction at the ice/bed interface; flightlines; errors; boundaries; grids; preview images

Input format ASCII, Binary
Other input format NetCDF
Describe output parameters ice flow of an ice sheet, sea-level rise,

visco-elastic uplift

Output format Binary
Other output format
Pre-processing software needed? No
Describe pre-processing software
Post-processing software needed? No
Describe post-processing software
Visualization software needed? No
If above answer is yes
Other visualization software

Describe processes represented by the model ice stress balance, ice mass transport / free surface, ice thermal (cold- and enthalpy-based), dual continuum hydrology, SHAKTI hydrology, GlaDS hydrology, ice damage mechanics, transient (time-dependent projection), grounding line dynamics, glacial isostatic adjustment (GIA), solid earth elastic response, sea-level fingerprints, positive degree day (PDD), surface energy balance (snow densification and surface mass balance calculation with the GEMB model), basal melt parameterizations (PICO/PICOP), empirical scalar tertiary anisotropy regime (ESTAR), uncertainty quantification capabilities (Dakota)
Describe key physical parameters and equations See
Describe length scale and resolution constraints From hundreds of meters to thousands of kilometers (constraints are mainly HEC-related).
Describe time scale and resolution constraints Typical time step of two weeks (constraints are mainly HEC-related).
Describe any numerical limitations and issues Poor scaling for ice-flow models with direct solvers (improves upon use of iterative solvers, but convergence is not systematic).

Describe available calibration data sets --
Upload calibration data sets if available:
Describe available test data sets Nightly runs are carried out on every SVN repository commit.
Upload test data sets if available:
Describe ideal data for testing --

Do you have current or future plans for collaborating with other researchers? ISSM is a collaborative software development project by its nature, with a growing community of cryosphere scientists who rely upon it. There are efforts in place to expand use of ISSM in the GIA and SLR communities.
Is there a manual available? Yes
Upload manual if available: Media:ISSM userguide 2017.pdf
Model website if any
Model forum / discussion board

This part will be filled out by CSDMS staff

OpenMI compliant No but possible
BMI compliant No but possible
WMT component No but possible
PyMT component
Is this a data component
Can be coupled with:
Model info
Nr. of publications: 82
Total citations: 1686
h-index: 22
m-quotient: 1.69
Qrcode ISSM.png
Link to this page


ISSM was originally developed by Eric Larour, Mathieu Morlighem, and Helene Seroussi in 2005. The development team and number of users has grown significantly since, and includes (among others) Nicole Schlegel, Surendra Adhikari, Lambert Caron, Josh Cuzzone, and Basile de Fleurian.


In addition to the developers and users noted above, significant contributions to ISSM have been made by Jean Utke, Johannes Bondizio, John Schiermeier, Thiago Dias dos Santos, Ellen Robo, Gilberto Perez, Chris Borstad, Brett Lemorzadec, Felicity McCormack, Youngmin Choi, Tyler Pelle, Justin Quinn, Feras Habbal, Martin Rueckamp, Silvestri Rebuffi, Alex Scott, Aleah Sommers, Luka Wester, Henning Åkesson, Silje Johnsen, Behnaz Khazbak, Charlotte Lang, Michiel Helsen, Daniel Cheng, Winnie Chu, Dimitris Menemenlis, Nicolas Mokus, Nathan Ma, Yannic Fischler, Sri Hari Krishna Narayanan, Einar Olason, Karita Kajanto, Issac Smith, Claire Girard, and Ala Khazendar. Please see our Web site at for more information.


Nr. of publications: 82
Total citations: 1686
h-index: 22
m-quotient: 1.69

Featured publication(s)YearModel describedType of ReferenceCitations
Larour, E.; Seroussi, H.; Morlighem, M.; Rignot, E.; 2012. Continental scale, high order, high spatial resolution, ice sheet modeling using the Ice Sheet System Model (ISSM): ICE SHEET SYSTEM MODEL. Journal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface, 117, n/a–n/a. 10.1029/2011JF002140
(View/edit entry)
2012 ISSM
Model overview 377
See more publications of ISSM

See our Web site at for references.


See our Web site at for capability status.
See our forum at for debugging and other information.
Emergency issues can be reported to


See our Web site at for known issues related to installation and running of ISSM.
See our forum at for debugging and other information.
Emergency issues can be reported to

Input Files

See our Web site at for more information.

Output Files

See our Web site at for more information.