A Distributed Surface Mass Balance Model
C C++ Other
Fetching latest commit…
Cannot retrieve the latest commit at this time.



  • Distributed Energy Balance Model (DEBaM)
  • Distributed Enhanced Temperature Index Model (DETIM)


The models compute glacier surface mass balance (ablation and accumulation) and discharge, with hourly to daily resolution. The mass balance model is fully distributed, i.e. calculations are performed for each grid cell of a digital elevation model. Discharge is calculated from the water provided by melt plus liquid precipitation by three linear reservoirs corresponding to the different storage properties of firn, snow and glacier ice. Discharge simulations are optional, i.e. the mass balance model can be run independently of the discharge model. Glacier retreat may also be modeled using a simple volume-area scaling. In addition, DEBaM can compute subsurface temperatures, water content and percolation by a 1-D multi-layer snow model that is forced by the surface energy balance.

Minimum data requirements are a digital elevation model and hourly or daily air temperature and precipitation data (DETIM) and temperature, precipitation, wind speed, humidity and shortwave incoming radiation (DEBaM).

The models were initially developed by Regine Hock in the mid 1990s and have been continuously expanded since. The subsurface module has been added in 2006 by Carleen Tijm-Reijmer, Utrecht University.

  • DEBaM computes surface melt by an energy balance approach.

  • DETIM offers various temperature index methods approaches.


Clone the project with Git by running:

$ git clone https://github.com/regine/meltmodel.git

from a terminal. If you plan to modify the source, or contribute to the project, this is the preferred method. More information about git can be found at git-scm or at Github.



  • A working C compiler

To build DeBAM and DETIM, do

$ cd meltmodel
$ make all

The model executables will now be located in meltmodel/bin

A more complete installation guide is available in install.md.

Additional Information

For further information contact Regine Hock, (University of Alaska, Fairbanks) or Carleen Tijm-Reijmer (University Utrecht). Note that the model may contain errors and the model manual may not be complete or outdated. User support and further code improvements are available in direct collaboration with us.

If you find a glaring error or have suggestions how the manual can be improved, please feel free to let up know via the Github Issues page for the models or via email.