Iceland has lost its first glacier, with scientists warning that more sheets of ice on the island could end up lost because of climate change.
A ceremony has been held at the Okjokull glacier in western Iceland with 100 people commemorating the loss of the once 6 square mile glacier. According to The Guardian, 100 people walked up the mountain for the ceremony, including Iceland’s Prime Minister Katrin Jakobsdottir.
Today, @CymeneHowe and @DominicBoyer led a hike on #Okmountain in Borgarfjörður, Iceland to install a memorial to #Okjokull, the country's first named glacier lost to climate change. #Okglacier pic.twitter.com/Haek1GM8SA
— Rice University News (@RiceUNews) August 18, 2019
A metal plaque has been erected in honour of the glacier, acting as a reminder of how much our world is rapidly changing. It’s been placed at the terrain which was once covered by the “Ok” glacier.
The Icelandic geologist who pronounced the glacier extinct about a decade ago, Oddur Sigurdsson, took a death certificate to the memorial with him.
NASA Earth used satellite imagery to demonstrate the extent of the glacier’s melting ice.
On August 18, 2019, scientists will be among those who gather for a memorial atop Ok volcano in west-central #Iceland. The deceased being remembered is Okjökull—a once-iconic #glacier that was declared dead in 2014. https://t.co/IbwDha54cB #NASA #Landsat pic.twitter.com/pSFD08UohO
— NASA Earth (@NASAEarth) August 12, 2019
The memorial plaque for Iceland‘s Okjökull glacier contains a warning marked “A letter to the future”, translated to English it reads:
Ok is the first Icelandic glacier to lose its status as a glacier. In the next 200 years all our glaciers are expected to follow the same path. This monument is to acknowledge that we know what is happening and know what needs to be done. Only you know if we did it.
As well as the inscription written by Andri Snaer Magnason, “415 ppm CO2” was also written on the plaque. This refers to the record level of carbon dioxide measured in the atmosphere back in May 2018.
What was once a massive glacier has been reduced to just a small patch of ice on top of a volcano. BBC News notes the glacier was declared dead in 2014 when it was no longer thick enough to move. A stark contrast to when the glacier covered 6.2 square miles in 1890.
Prime Minister Katrin Jakobsdottir opened the service saying how she hoped that this would be alarming for the entire world:
I hope this ceremony will be an inspiration not only to us here in Iceland but also for the rest of the world, because what we are seeing here is just one face of the climate crisis…
With July 2019 recorded as the hottest July and the hottest month on record globally since temperature records began, as per the Wall Street Journal, there are concerns that glaciers around the world are continually going to die.
Only time will tell whether we will be around to read the plaque, and be able to reverse the current trajectory of climate change.
If you have a story you want to tell send it to UNILAD via [email protected]
Matt Weston is a lover of electric cars, artificial intelligence and space. From Cornwall, he’s a UCLan graduate that still dreams of being a Formula One driver in the very near future. Previously work includes reporting for regional newspapers and freelance video for the International Business Times.