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March 25, 2013

A simulation of an Antarctic ice sheet using the Stampede supercomputer.

A prototype simulation of the dynamics of the Antarctic ice sheet on the new Stampede supercomputer at TACC. Ice flow is modeled using the 3-D nonlinear full Stokes equations, which is the highest fidelity model of ice sheet flow. The code incorporates a number of advanced numerical methods, including mass-conservative discretization, mesh adaptivity and scalable parallel solvers. The variable-resolution mesh features 1 km finest resolution at grounding lines, leading to a total of 110 million velocity and pressure unknowns. This model was solved on 16,384 cores of Stampede.

The image shows the resulting surface ice velocity corresponding to an assumed friction at the base of the ice sheet. The capability of a system like Stampede is critical for enabling the solution of the inverse problem, in which we seek to determine the basal friction that minimizes the misfit between predicted and observed surface flow velocities. Such inverse solutions require many forward model solutions and are essential for creating an ice sheet dynamics model that is better able to predict sea level rise.

Credit: Tobin Isaac and Georg Stadler, Institute for Computational Science & Engineering (ICES); Omar Ghattas, ICES, Jackson School of Geosciences and Department of Mechanical Engineering; The University of Texas at Austin

Images credited to the National Science Foundation, a federal agency, are in the public domain. The images were created by employees of the United States Government as part of their official duties or prepared by contractors as "works for hire" for NSF. You may freely use NSF-credited images and, at your discretion, credit NSF with a "Courtesy: National Science Foundation" notation.

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