Microcantilevers that thermally sense the topography of the sample with the ability of electrostatic actuation enable a highly parallel implementation where multiple cantilevers scan the media. Microcantilevers with integrated sensors are used for a variety of applications viz. calorimetry, thermal dip pen lithography, thermal metrology, room temperature chemical vapor deposition in addition to high density data storage application. The dynamics of these cantilevers is governed by a complex interplay of mechanical, thermal, electrostatic and interatomic forces. Such dynamics are analyzed in this paper for operating conditions that are practical for high density data storage applications (≥ Tb/in 2) and imaging. Models for a thermo-mechanical cantilever that are tractable for realtime applications as well as a comprehensive characterization of the relevant physical effects and methods for identifying model parameters are developed. The efficacy of the paradigm developed is proven by a comparison with experimental data.