Iceland commemorates first glacier lost to climate change - GulfToday

Iceland commemorates first glacier lost to climate change

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The Okjِkull glacier is seen atop the Ok Volcano in Iceland.

Iceland on Sunday honours the passing of Okjokull, its first glacier lost to climate change, as scientists warn that some 400 others on the subarctic island risk the same fate.

A bronze plaque will be unveiled in a ceremony starting around 1400 GMT to mark Okjokull -- which translates to "Ok glacier" -- in the west of Iceland, in the presence of local researchers and their peers at Rice University in the United States, who initiated the project.

Iceland's Prime Minister Katrin Jakobsdottir, Environment Minister Gudmundur Ingi Gudbrandsson, and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson are also due to attend the event.

"This will be the first monument to a glacier lost to climate change anywhere in the world," Cymene Howe, associate professor of anthropology at Rice University, said in July.

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The top of the Ok Volcano where the Okjokull glacier has melted away throughout the 20th century.

Next 20 years

"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," the plaque reads.

It is also labelled "415 ppm CO2," referring to the record level of carbon dioxide measured in the atmosphere last May.

Stripped in 2014

Glaciologists stripped Okjokull of its glacier status in 2014, a first for Iceland.

In 1890, the glacier ice covered 16 square kilometres (6.2 square miles) but by 2012, it measured just 0.7 square kilometres, according to a report from the University of Iceland from 2017.

To have the status of a glacier, the mass of ice and snow must be thick enough to move by its own weight. For that to happen the mass must be approximately 40 to 50 metres (130 to 165 feet) thick, he said.

Agence France-Presse