Mauro Werder's personal homepage


I am a glaciologist working on modelling and measuring glacier hydraulics. I also dab into erosion and sediment transport. I like scientific computing and strolling around on glaciers.

Research interests


GlaDS, the Glacier Drainage System model, is probably my most influential work to date (link to paper). It simulates the subglacial drainage through a distributed and channelised system in 2 dimensions.

The animation shows the modelled evolution of the subglacial drainage system and associated ice sliding speed for a catchment just south of Jakobshavn Isbræ (Greenland) in 2011. The left panel shows contours of the hydraulic potential and the network of channels; the right panel shows the sliding speed and channels; and the bottom panel shows the meltwater forcing.

Here is a video of a presentation I gave about GlaDS at the CSDMS annual meeting 2013. I give an overview of the model and show some examples.

It has been re-implemented in several other modelling frame works, in particular the two big ice-flow models Elmer/Ice and ISSM.

Subglacial sediment transport

I supervised Ian Delaney in his PhD in which he developed the SUGSET model (link to paper) which simulates the sediment transport underneath a glacier in one dimension.

Sketch of modelled processes within SUGSET

Bayesian inversions

I use Bayesian techniques to infer ice thicknesses from available measurements via my BITE-model (link to paper). I am involved in Inigo Irarrazaval's PhD who uses these techniques to invert the parameters of subglacial drainage models (link to paper).

Laboratory experiments

My master student Yuri Prohaska conducted many laboratory experiments on englacial R-channel drainage with the aim of determining the hydraulic friction and how it evolves in time.

scallops-green.jpg R-channel (filled with green-dyed water) showing pronounced scallop/ripple formation.

Research Projects

Current and past research projects:

2020-2023 LEAD
"Laboratory Experiments of channelized glAcial Drainage" (LEAD, ETH grant, one PhD student)

2019-2022 4D-Antarctica
Participating in ESA project 4D-Antarctica to model subglacial water routing for all of Antarctica

2019-2020 Artificial lake drainages on Plaine Morte
"Glacier lake outburst floods and englacial water flow – a full-scale experiment" (GLOFFEE, WSL internally funded project)

2018-2020 R-channel laboratory experiments

2015-2019 Bayesian Ice Thickness Estimations
Development of the BITE-model to estimate glacier ice thickness from available measurements (part of the ESA Glaciers_CCI project, link).

2014-2019 SHMIP
The Subglacial Hydrology Model Inter-comparison Project

2015-2019 Subglacial sediment transport
PhD project of Ian Delaney (SNF project, link, code)

2014-2015 The hydrology of subglacial overdeepenings
National Cooperative for the Disposal of Radioactive Waste (Nagra) funded work

2011-2014 Marie Curie fellowship: Glacier Drainage System (GlaDS) model
European Union (FP7) Marie Curie "International Outgoing Fellowship for Career Development" (# 275480) with Gwenn Flowers (Simon Fraser University, Canada) and Tony Payne (University of Bristol, UK)

2010-2011 SNF fellowship
Swiss National Science Foundation: "Fellowship for prospective researcher" (# 127812) with Gwenn Flowers (Simon Fraser University, Canada).

2004-2009 Gornergletscher Jökulhlaups
My PhD project (SNF grant)

Some publications

See all my publications on Google Scholar

M.A. Werder, M. Huss, F. Paul, A. Dehecq & D. Farinotti
A Bayesian ice thickness estimation model for large-scale applications
Journal of Glaciology, 2020

I. Delaney, M.A. Werder & D. Farinotti
A numerical model for fluvial transport of subglacial sediment
Journal of Geophysical Research, 2019

I. Irarrazaval, M.A. Werder, N. Linde, J. Irving, F. Herman & G. Mariethoz
Bayesian inference of subglacial channel structures from water‐pressure and tracer‐transit‐time data: A numerical study based on a 2‐D geostatistical modelling approach
Journal of Geophysical Research, 2019

C. Dow, N.B. Karlsson & M.A. Werder
Limited Impact of Subglacial Supercooling Freeze-on for Greenland Ice Sheet Stratigraphy
Geophysical Research Letters, 2019

B. de Fleurian, M.A. Werder and many others
SHMIP The subglacial hydrology model intercomparison project
Journal of Glaciology, 2018
See also the project web-page:

M.A. Werder
The hydrology of subglacial overdeepenings: A new supercooling threshold formula
Geophysical Research Letters, 2016

M.A. Werder, I.J. Hewitt, C.G. Schoof & G.E. Flowers
Modeling channelized and distributed subglacial drainage in two dimensions
Journal of Geophysical Research, 2013

C. Schoof, I.J. Hewitt & M.A. Werder
Flotation and free surface flow in a model for subglacial drainage. Part I: Distributed drainage
Journal of Fluid Mechanics, 2012 (preprint)

I.J. Hewitt, C. Schoof & M.A. Werder
Flotation and free surface flow in a model for subglacial drainage. Part II: Channel flow
Journal of Fluid Mechanics, 2012 (preprint)

M.A. Werder, T.V. Schuler & M. Funk
Short term variations of tracer transit speed on alpine glaciers
The Cryosphere, 2010

M.A. Werder & M. Funk
Dye tracing a jokulhlaup: II. Testing a jokulhlaup model against flow speeds inferred from measurements
Journal of Glaciology, 2009

M.A. Werder
Dye tracing and modelling jökulhlaups
PhD thesis, 2009 (pdf)


I host my code on and

  • BITEmodel.jl The Bayesian Ice Thickness Estimation model. Code for my 2020 JoG paper. (unregistered Julia package)
  • WhereTheWaterFlows.jl, steepest descent water routing code.
  • GlaDS: my Glacier Drainage System model. Closed-source at the moment but contact me if you want to use it.
  • Parameters.jl, a Julia package to define types with default field values, keyword constructors and (un-)pack macros. Watch my JuliaCon 2018 talk for a 10min introduction.
  • SimpleTraits.jl, simple traits in Julia.
  • KissMCMC.jl an affine invariant Markov chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) sampler, modelled after emcee.
  • Traits.jl: a experimental package for doing traits (aka interfaces, protocols, type classes) in Julia (version 0.4 only). Watch my JuliaCon 2015 talk for a 10min introduction.
  • IVPTestSuite.jl: initial value problem test suite to test ODE and DAE solvers in Julia. Superseded by the fabulous DifferentialEquations.jl universe.
  • sparseFEM: a finite element package for Matlab/Octave. It uses sparse matrices as global finite element operators. Faster than FEniCS (for linear elements, tested in 2014)!
  • mattri: creates triangular meshes in Matlab/Octave using Triangle as backend
  • geofun: a simple Matlab/Octave package to facilitate the use of geo-spatial data in different projections
  • fieldpy: a Python package to deal with field measurement data. Outdated as nowadays such a library should probably use excellent Pandas. The docs are here.


Geeky stuff / blog-posts

I much enjoy geeky computer pursuits; my coding I like to do in Julia but I sometimes I still end up having to use Matlab instead… I live mostly in emacs which itself lives in Arch Linux; I use Sway as window manager; this web site is done in Org-Mode (an emacs extension) using a style sheet I copied of

Here a few notes to myself, maybe useful to others too (please email me if you got comments/suggestions):



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