National Nuclear Security Administration

Sandia's ice sheet modeling of Greenland, Antarctica helps predict sea-level rise

March 2, 2016

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Sandia California researchers Irina Tezaur and Ray Tuminaro analyze a model of Antarctica. They are part of a Sandia team working to improve the reliability and efficiency of computational models that describe ice sheet behavior and dynamics.

The Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets will make a dominant contribution to 21st century sea-level rise if current climate trends continue. However, predicting the expected loss of ice sheet mass is difficult due to the complexity of modeling ice sheet behavior.

To better understand this loss, a team of Sandia National Laboratories researchers has been improving the reliability and efficiency of computational models that describe ice sheet behavior and dynamics.

This research is part of a five-year project called Predicting Ice Sheet and Climate Evolution at Extreme Scales (PISCEES), funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Scientific Discovery through Advanced Computing (SciDAC) program. PISCEES is a multi-lab, multi-university endeavor that includes researchers from Sandia, Los Alamos, Lawrence Berkeley and Oak Ridge national laboratories, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Florida State University, the University of Bristol, the University of Texas at Austin, the University of South Carolina and New York University.

Sandia’s biggest contribution to PISCEES has been an analysis tool, a land-ice solver called Albany/FELIX (Finite Elements for Land Ice eXperiments). The tool is based on equations that simulate ice flow over the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets and is being coupled to Earth models through the Accelerated Climate for Energy project.

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