The landice/ensemble_generator test group creates ensembles of MALI simulations with different parameter values. The ensemble framework sets up a user-defined number of simulations with parameter values selected from either uniform sampling or a space-filling Sobol sequence.

A test case in this test group consists of a number of ensemble members, and one ensemble manager. Each ensemble member is a step of the test case, and can be run separately or as part of the complete ensemble. Ensemble members are identified by a three digit run number, starting with 000. A config file specifies the run numbers to set up, as well as some common information about the run configuration.

The test case can be generated multiple times to set up and run additional runs with a different range of run numbers after being run initially. This allows one to perform a small ensemble (e.g. 2-10 runs) to make sure results look as expected before spending time on a larger ensemble. This also allows one to add more ensemble members from the Sobol sequence later if UQ analysis indicates the original sample size was insufficient.

A number of possible parameters are supported and whether they are active and what parameter value ranges should be used are specified in a user-supplied config file. Currently these parameters are supported:

  • basal friction power law exponent

  • scaling factor on muFriction

  • scaling factor on stiffnessFactor

  • von Mises threshold stress for calving

  • calving rate speed limit

  • gamma0 melt sensitivity parameter in ISMIP6-AIS ice-shelf basal melting parameterization

  • target ice-shelf basal melt rate for ISMIP6-AIS ice-shelf basal melting parameterization. In the model setup, the deltaT thermal forcing bias adjustment is adjusted to obtain the target melt rate for a given gamma0

Additional parameters can be easily added in the future.

compass setup will set up the simulations and the ensemble manager. compass run from the test case work directory will submit each run as a separate slurm job. Individual runs can be run independently through the job script or compass run executed in the run directory. (E.g., if you want to test or debug a run without running the entire ensemble.)

Simulation output can be analyzed with the plot_ensemble.py visualization script, which generates plots of basic quantities of interest as a function of parameter values, as well as identifies runs that did not reach the target year. The visualization script plots a small number of quantities of interest as a function of each active parameter. It also plots pairwise parameter sensitivities for each pair of parameters being varied. Finally, it plots time-series plots for the quantities of interest for all runs in the ensemble. There are a number of options in the visualization script that can be manually set near the top of script.

Future improvements may include:

  • enabling the ensemble manager to identify runs that need to be restarted so the restarts in the spinup_ensemble do not need to be managed manually

  • safety checks or warnings before submitting ensembles that will use large amounts of computing resources

  • a method for maintaining namelist, streams, and albany_input.yaml files for different ensembles. Currently, these input files are specific to the Amery Ice Shelf ensemble run in 2023.

The test group includes two test cases:

  • spinup_ensemble: a set of simulations from the same initial condition but with different parameter values. This could either be fixed climate relaxation spinup or forced by time-evolving historical conditions.

  • branch_ensemble: a set of simulations branched from each member of the spinup_ensemble in a specified year with a different forcing. Multiple branch ensembles can be branched from one spinup_ensemble

config options

Test cases in this test group have the following common config options.

This test group is intended for expert users, and it is expected that it will typically be run with a customized cfg file. Note the default run numbers create a small ensemble, but uncertainty quantification applications will typically need dozens or more simulations.

The test-case-specific config options are:


# start and end numbers for runs to set up and run
# Run numbers should be zero-based.
# Additional runs can be added and run to an existing ensemble
# without affecting existing runs, but trying to set up a run
# that already exists will generate a warning and skip that run.
# If using uniform sampling, start_run should be 0 and end_run should be
# equal to (max_samples - 1), otherwise unexpected behavior may result.
# These values do not affect viz/analysis, which will include any
# runs it finds.
start_run = 0
end_run = 3

# sampling_method can be either 'sobol' for a space-filling Sobol sequence
# or 'uniform' for uniform sampling.  Uniform sampling is most appropriate
# for a single parameter sensitivity study.  It will sample uniformly across
# all dimensions simultaneously, thus sampling only a small fraction of
# parameter space
sampling_method = sobol

# maximum number of samples to be considered.
# max_samples needs to be greater or equal to (end_run + 1)
# When using uniform sampling, max_samples should equal (end_run + 1).
# When using Sobol sequence, max_samples ought to be a power of 2.
# max_samples should not be changed after the first set of ensemble.
# So, when using Sobol sequence, max_samples might be set larger than
# (end_run + 1) if you plan to add more samples to the ensemble later.
max_samples = 1024

# basin for comparing model results with observational estimates in
# visualization script.
# Basin options are defined in compass/landice/ais_observations.py
# If desired basin does not exist, it can be added to that dataset.
# (They need not be mutually exclusive.)
# If a basin is not provided, observational comparisons will not be made.
basin = ISMIP6BasinBC

# fraction of CFL-limited time step to be used by the adaptive timestepper
# This value is explicitly included here to force the user to consciously
# select the value to use.  Model run time tends to be inversely proportional
# to scaling this value (e.g., 0.2 will be ~4x more expensive than 0.8).
# Value should be less than or equal to 1.0, and values greater than 0.9 are
# not recommended.
# Values of 0.7-0.9 typically work for most simulations, but some runs may
# fail.  Values of 0.2-0.5 are more conservative and will allow more runs
# to succeed, but will result in substantially more expensive runs
# However, because the range of parameter combinations being simulated
# are likely to stress the model, a smaller number than usual may be
# necessary to effectively cover parameter space.
# A user may want to do a few small ensembles with different values
# to inform the choice for a large production ensemble.
cfl_fraction = 0.7

# Path to the initial condition input file.
# Eventually this could be hard-coded to use files on the input data
# server, but initially we want flexibility to experiment with different
# inputs and forcings
input_file_path = /global/cfs/cdirs/fanssie/MALI_projects/Amery_UQ/Amery_4to20km_from_whole_AIS/Amery.nc

# the value of the friction exponent used for the calculation of muFriction
# in the input file
orig_fric_exp = 0.2

# Path to ISMIP6 ice-shelf basal melt parameter input file.
basal_melt_param_file_path = /global/cfs/cdirs/fanssie/MALI_projects/Amery_UQ/Amery_4to20km_from_whole_AIS/forcing/basal_melt/parameterizations/Amery_4to20km_basin_and_coeff_gamma0_DeltaT_quadratic_non_local_median_allBasin2.nc

# Path to thermal forcing file for the mesh to be used
TF_file_path = /global/cfs/cdirs/fanssie/MALI_projects/Amery_UQ/Amery_4to20km_from_whole_AIS/forcing/ocean_thermal_forcing/obs/Amery_4to20km_obs_TF_1995-2017_8km_x_60m.nc

# Path to SMB forcing file for the mesh to be used
SMB_file_path = /global/cfs/cdirs/fanssie/MALI_projects/Amery_UQ/Amery_4to20km_from_whole_AIS/forcing/atmosphere_forcing/RACMO_climatology_1995-2017/Amery_4to20km_RACMO2.3p2_ANT27_smb_climatology_1995-2017_no_xtime_noBareLandAdvance.nc

# number of tasks that each ensemble member should be run with
# Eventually, compass could determine this, but we want explicit control for now
ntasks = 128

# whether basal friction exponent is being varied
# [unitless]
use_fric_exp = True
# min value to vary over
fric_exp_min = 0.1
# max value to vary over
fric_exp_max = 0.33333

# whether a scaling factor on muFriction is being varied
# [unitless: 1.0=no scaling]
use_mu_scale = True
# min value to vary over
mu_scale_min = 0.8
# max value to vary over
mu_scale_max = 1.2

# whether a scaling factor on stiffnessFactor is being varied
# [unitless: 1.0=no scaling]
use_stiff_scale = True
# min value to vary over
stiff_scale_min = 0.8
# max value to vary over
stiff_scale_max = 1.2

# whether the von Mises threshold stress (sigma_max) is being varied
# [units: Pa]
use_von_mises_threshold = True
# min value to vary over
von_mises_threshold_min = 80.0e3
# max value to vary over
von_mises_threshold_max = 180.0e3

# whether the calving speed limit is being varied
# [units: km/yr]
use_calv_limit = False
# min value to vary over
calv_limit_min = 5.0
# max value to vary over
calv_limit_max = 50.0

# whether ocean melt parameterization coefficient is being varied
# [units: m/yr]
use_gamma0 = True
# min value to vary over
gamma0_min = 9620.0
# max value to vary over
gamma0_max = 471000.0

# whether target ice-shelf basal melt flux is being varied
# [units: Gt/yr]
use_meltflux = True
# min value to vary over
meltflux_min = 12.
# max value to vary over
meltflux_max = 58.
# ice-shelf area associated with target melt rates
# [units: m^2]
iceshelf_area_obs = 60654.e6

A user should copy the default config file to a user-defined config file before setting up the test case and any necessary adjustments made. Importantly, the user-defined config should be modified to also include the following options that will be used for submitting the jobs for each ensemble member.

qos = regular

wall_time = 1:30:00

Note that currently there is not functionality to automatically enable restart settings if runs in the spinup_ensemble do not reach the desired year. This could be added in the future, but to date it has been practical to set wall_time long enough to ensure this is not a problem. Runs in a branch_ensemble are set as restarts from the spinup_ensemble runs, so there is no need to change settings if runs need to be continued beyond the first job.


landice/ensemble_generator/spinup_ensemble uses the ensemble framework to create an ensemble of simulations integrated over a specified time range. The test case can be applied to any domain and set of input files. If the default namelist and streams settings are not appropriate, they can be adjusted or a new test case can be set up mirroring the existing one.

The default model configuration uses:

  • first-order velocity solver

  • power law basal friction

  • evolving temperature

  • von Mises calving

  • ISMIP6 surface mass balance and sub-ice-shelf melting using climatological mean forcing

The initial condition and forcing files are specified in the ensemble_generator.cfg file or a user modification of it.


landice/ensemble_generator/branch_ensemble uses the ensemble framework to create an ensemble of simulations that are branched from corresponding runs of the spinup_ensemble at a specified year with a different forcing. In general, any namelist or streams modifications can be applied to the branch runs.

The branch_ensemble test-case-specific config options are:

# config options for setting up an ensemble

# config options for branching an ensemble

# start and end numbers for runs to set up and run
# branch runs.
# It is assumed that spinup runs have already been
# conducted for these runs.
start_run = 0
end_run = 3

# Path to thermal forcing file for the mesh to be used in the branch run
TF_file_path = /global/cfs/cdirs/fanssie/MALI_projects/Amery_UQ/Amery_4to20km_from_whole_AIS/forcing/ocean_thermal_forcing/UKESM1-0-LL_SSP585/1995-2300/Amery_4to20km_TF_UKESM1-0-LL_SSP585_2300.nc

# Path to SMB forcing file for the mesh to be used in the branch run
SMB_file_path = /global/cfs/cdirs/fanssie/MALI_projects/Amery_UQ/Amery_4to20km_from_whole_AIS/forcing/atmosphere_forcing/UKESM1-0-LL_SSP585/1995-2300/Amery_4to20km_SMB_UKESM1-0-LL_SSP585_2300_noBareLandAdvance.nc

# location of spinup ensemble to branch from
spinup_test_dir = /pscratch/sd/h/hoffman2/AMERY_corrected_forcing_6param_ensemble_2023-03-18/landice/ensemble_generator/ensemble

# year of spinup simulation from which to branch runs
branch_year = 2050

# whether to only set up branch runs for filtered runs or all runs
set_up_filtered_only = True

# path to pickle file containing filtering information generated by plot_ensemble.py
ensemble_pickle_file = None

Steps for setting up and running an ensmble

  1. With a compass conda environment set up, run, e.g., compass setup -t landice/ensemble_generator/spinup_ensemble -w WORK_DIR_PATH -f USER.cfg where WORK_DIR_PATH is a location that can store the whole ensemble (typically a scratch drive) and USER.cfg is the user-defined config described in the previous section that includes options for [parallel] and [job], as well as any required modifications to the [ensemble] section. Likely, most or all attributes in the [ensemble] section need to be customized for a given application.

  2. After compass setup completes and all runs are set up, go to the WORK_DIR_PATH and change to the landice/ensemble_generator/spinup_ensemble subdirectory. From there you will see subdirectories for each run, a subdirectory for the ensemble_manager and symlink to the visualization script.

  3. To submit jobs for the entire ensemble, change to the ensemble_manager subdirectory and execute compass run. Be careful, as it is possible to consume a large number of computing resources quickly with this tool!

  4. Each run will have its own batch job that can be monitored with squeue or similar commands.

  5. When the ensemble has completed, or as it is progressing, you can assess the result through the basic visualization script plot_ensemble.py. The script will skip runs that are incomplete or failed, so you can run it while an ensemble is still running to assess progress.

  6. If you want to run add additional ensemble members, adjust start_run and end_run in your config file and redo steps 1-5. The ensemble_manager will always be set to run the most recent run numbers defined in the config when compass setup was run. The visualization script is independent of the run manager and will process all runs it finds.

It is also possible to run an individual run manually by changing to the run directory and submitting the job script yourself with sbatch.

Setting up and running a branch ensemble follows the same steps. Multiple branch ensembles (e.g., with different climate forcing scenarios) can be conducted from one spinup ensemble.

It is intended that a single MALI executable is used for all simulations in an ensemble. If the version of the code is updated, it is up to the user to anticipate undesirable consequences.