Photo: Rice University

The First Icelandic Glacier Lost to Climate Change Will Receive a Memorial

Sustainability News National Parks
by Eben Diskin Jul 24, 2019

On August 18, 2019, Iceland’s Okjökull glacier (also known as Ok glacier) will be memorialized with a plaque, after it tragically lost its battle with global warming. Disappearing back in 2014, it was the first Icelandic glacier to vanish due to climate change.

Last year Okjökull glacier was the focus of a documentary called Not Ok, wherein Rice University anthropologists Cymene Howe and Dominic Boyer told its tragic story to the world. And this summer, the pair will lead a tour called “Un-glacier Tour II” with the Icelandic Hiking Society, during which they will place the plaque. Those interested in joining the tour may reserve a spot on the website.

According to The Guardian, one century ago, Okjökull covered almost six miles and was 165 feet thick. Today, it has been reduced to less than one mile of ice that is thinner than 50 feet.

The plaque reads, “A letter to the future. 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 what needs to be done. Only you know if we did it.”

In a press release, Howe said, “By marking Ok’s passing, we hope to draw attention to what is being lost as Earth’s glaciers expire. These bodies of ice are the largest freshwater reserves on the planet and frozen within them are histories of the atmosphere. They are also often important cultural forms that are full of significance.”

Okjökull glacier is one of 400 glaciers in Iceland, all of which scientists fear will be gone by 2200. In lieu of flowers, you can reduce your carbon emissions.

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