An Efficient Ice Sheet/Earth System Model Spin-up Procedure for CESM2-CISM2: Description, Evaluation, and Broader Applicability

Marcus Lofverstrom, Jeremy G. Fyke, Katherine Thayer-Calder, Laura Muntjewerf, Miren Vizcaino, William J. Sacks, William H. Lipscomb, Bette L. Otto-Bliesner, Sarah L. Bradley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)
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Spinning up a highly complex, coupled Earth system model (ESM) is a time consuming and computationally demanding exercise. For models with interactive ice sheet components, this becomes a major challenge, as ice sheets are sensitive to bidirectional feedback processes and equilibrate over glacial timescales of up to many millennia. This work describes and demonstrates a computationally tractable, iterative procedure for spinning up a contemporary, highly complex ESM that includes an interactive ice sheet component. The procedure alternates between a computationally expensive coupled configuration and a computationally cheaper configuration where the atmospheric component is replaced by a data model. By periodically regenerating atmospheric forcing consistent with the coupled system, the data atmosphere remains adequately constrained to ensure that the broader model state evolves realistically. The applicability of the method is demonstrated by spinning up the preindustrial climate in the Community Earth System Model Version 2 (CESM2), coupled to the Community Ice Sheet Model Version 2 (CISM2) over Greenland. The equilibrium climate state is similar to the control climate from a coupled simulation with a prescribed Greenland ice sheet, indicating that the iterative procedure is consistent with a traditional spin-up approach without interactive ice sheets. These results suggest that the iterative method presented here provides a faster and computationally cheaper method for spinning up a highly complex ESM, with or without interactive ice sheet components. The method described here has been used to develop the climate/ice sheet initial conditions for transient, ice sheet-enabled simulations with CESM2-CISM2 in the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 6 (CMIP6).

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2019MS001984
Pages (from-to)1-23
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Advances in Modeling Earth Systems
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Community Earth System Model version 2 (CESM2)
  • Coupled ice-sheet/Earth system modeling
  • Interactive ice sheets
  • Spin-up simulation


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