Subglacial Hydrology Model Inter-comparison Project


This project aims at providing a qualitative comparison of subglacial hydrology models by comparing results from a suite of test runs. It is designed such that any subglacial hydrology model producing effective pressure should be able to participate.

Our publication is out:


Quick links:


Over the last few years, a number of subglacial drainage system models have been created and published. However, as it is not known how water actually flows at the ice-bed interface, it is far from clear what physics to include in such models. Consequently many different types of drainage processes are included in these models. A nice overview over the main types of distributed drainage models is given by Bueler & Pelt (2015).

This intercomparison project's main aim is to collect a set of model runs which allows to qualitatively compare the different model behaviours. This should allow potential users of these models to make a more a qualified decision as to which model to choose for their application. Likewise for model developers, this may help them to assess which processes might be missing in their respective models. Note that this intercomparison does not aim at assessing the correctness of the participating models in any way. In particular this means that no attempt is made to ensure their correct numerical implementation nor their applicability to a certain real world scenario. The former should probably be done by each model individually whereas the latter might be the aim for a future hydro intercomparison exercise.

Note that our aim is quite different from the numerous ice flow intercomparison projects (e.g. Payne & al 2000). In their case it is reasonably clear what the physics are, at least for ice-flow, less so of the boundary conditions. This means that a one to one comparison is possible, whereas here a more qualitative approach is necessary.

Meetings and discussions


Basile de Fleurian:

Mauro Werder: