Description and Demonstration of the Coupled Community Earth System Model v2 – Community Ice Sheet Model v2 (CESM2-CISM2)

Laura Muntjewerf, William J. Sacks, Marcus Lofverstrom, Jeremy Fyke, William H. Lipscomb, Carolina Ernani da Silva, Miren Vizcaino, Katherine Thayer-Calder, Jan T.M. Lenaerts, Raymond Sellevold

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Earth system/ice-sheet coupling is an area of recent, major Earth System Model (ESM) development. This work occurs at the intersection of glaciology and climate science and is motivated by a need for robust projections of sea-level rise. The Community Ice Sheet Model version 2 (CISM2) is the newest component model of the Community Earth System Model version 2 (CESM2). This study describes the coupling and novel capabilities of the model, including: (1) an advanced energy-balance-based surface mass balance calculation in the land component with downscaling via elevation classes; (2) a closed freshwater budget from ice sheet to the ocean from surface runoff, basal melting, and ice discharge; (3) dynamic land surface types; and (4) dynamic atmospheric topography. The Earth system/ice-sheet coupling is demonstrated in a simulation with an evolving Greenland Ice Sheet (GrIS) under an idealized high CO2 scenario. The model simulates a large expansion of ablation areas (where surface ablation exceeds snow accumulation) and a large increase in surface runoff. This results in an elevated freshwater flux to the ocean, as well as thinning of the ice sheet and area retreat. These GrIS changes result in reduced Greenland surface albedo, changes in the sign and magnitude of sensible and latent heat fluxes, and modified surface roughness and overall ice sheet topography. Representation of these couplings between climate and ice sheets is key for the simulation of ice and climate interactions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2020MS002356
JournalJournal of Advances in Modeling Earth Systems
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2021


  • Earth system modeling
  • ice sheet modeling
  • model coupling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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