open access publication

Article, 2023

The CryoGrid community model (version 1.0) – a multi-physics toolbox for climate-driven simulations in the terrestrial cryosphere

In: Geoscientific Model Development, ISSN 1991-9603, 1991-959X, Volume 16, 9, Pages 2607-2647, 10.5194/gmd-16-2607-2023

Contributors (24)

Westermann, Sebastian (0000-0003-0514-4321) (Corresponding author) [1] Ingeman-Nielsen, Thomas (0000-0002-0776-4869) [2] Scheer, Johanna (0000-0001-7595-507X) [2] Aalstad, Kristoffer (0000-0002-2475-3731) [1] Aga, Juditha Undine (0000-0002-9201-4308) [1] Chaudhary, Nitin (0000-0001-7001-3155) [1] [3] Etzelmüller, Bernd (0000-0001-5156-3653) [1] Filhol, Simon (0000-0003-1282-7307) [1] Kääb, Andreas Max (0000-0002-6017-6564) [1] Renette, Cas (0000-0001-7775-1898) [1] Schmidt, Louise Steffensen [1] Schuler, Thomas Vikhamar (0000-0003-0972-3929) [1] Zweigel, Robin Benjamin [1] Martin, Léo C P (0000-0001-5405-0175) [4] Morard, Sarah [5] Ben-Asher, Matan [6] Angelopoulos, Michael C (0000-0003-2574-5108) [7] Boike, Julia (0000-0002-5875-2112) [7] Groenke, Brian (0000-0003-2570-9342) [7] [8] Miesner, Frederieke (0000-0002-2849-0406) [7] Nitzbon, Jan (0000-0001-7205-6298) [7] Overduin, Paul (0000-0001-9849-4712) [7] Stuenzi, Simone Maria (0000-0002-6071-289X) [7] Langer, Moritz (0000-0002-2704-3655) [7] [9]


  1. [1] University of Oslo
  2. [NORA names: Norway; Europe, Non-EU; Nordic; OECD]
  3. [2] Technical University of Denmark
  4. [NORA names: DTU Technical University of Denmark; University; Denmark; Europe, EU; Nordic; OECD]
  5. [3] Lund University
  6. [NORA names: Sweden; Europe, EU; Nordic; OECD]
  7. [4] Utrecht University
  8. [NORA names: Netherlands; Europe, EU; OECD]
  9. [5] University of Fribourg
  10. [NORA names: Switzerland; Europe, Non-EU; OECD]


Abstract. The CryoGrid community model is a flexible toolbox for simulating the ground thermal regime and the ice–water balance for permafrost and glaciers, extending a well-established suite of permafrost models (CryoGrid  1, 2, and 3). The CryoGrid community model can accommodate a wide variety of application scenarios, which is achieved by fully modular structures through object-oriented programming. Different model components, characterized by their process representations and parameterizations, are realized as classes (i.e., objects) in CryoGrid. Standardized communication protocols between these classes ensure that they can be stacked vertically. For example, the CryoGrid community model features several classes with different complexity for the seasonal snow cover, which can be flexibly combined with a range of classes representing subsurface materials, each with their own set of process representations (e.g., soil with and without water balance, glacier ice). We present the CryoGrid architecture as well as the model physics and defining equations for the different model classes, focusing on one-dimensional model configurations which can also interact with external heat and water reservoirs. We illustrate the wide variety of simulation capabilities for a site on Svalbard, with point-scale permafrost simulations using, e.g., different soil freezing characteristics, drainage regimes, and snow representations, as well as simulations for glacier mass balance and a shallow water body. The CryoGrid community model is not intended as a static model framework but aims to provide developers with a flexible platform for efficient model development. In this study, we document both basic and advanced model functionalities to provide a baseline for the future development of novel cryosphere models.


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  • Federal Ministry of Education and Research
  • The Research Council of Norway
  • European Commission