When a Rhode-Island-sized ice chunk separates from Greenland, is the calving due to typical seasonal variations or a long-term warmer world? A project called the Scalable, Efficient, and Accurate Community Ice Sheet Model, or SEACISM, on the Jaguar supercomputer at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, aims to use state-of-the-art simulation to predict the behaviour of ice sheets under a changing climate.
ORNL computational Earth scientist Kate Evans leads the effort to develop scalable algorithms, which includes other researchers from ORNL as well as Los Alamos National Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratories, New York University and Florida State University. When the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change did not provide a prediction of ice sheet fate in its Fourth Assessment Report due to a lack of data, the Department of Energy launched SEACISM (within the Ice Sheet Initiative for CLimate ExtremeS, or ISICLES) to improve ice sheet dynamics in Earth system models. The improvements may generate data to inform the next IPCC assessment report, expected in 2013.