A team of researchers and documentary makers have created a memorial for the lost Okjökull glacier in Iceland.
The former glacier is simply referred to these days as Ok, having lost the “-jökull”, which is the “glacier” part of its name.
On Sunday, Aug. 18, 2019, Iceland held a ceremony to officially mark the glacier’s passing.
A memorial plaque was also installed.
In 1901, the Okjökull glacier was depicted on a geological map as a large swathe of ice spanning 38 sq km.
By 1945 it had shrunk to just 5 sq km.
Not long after 2005, it was all but gone.
In 2014, Okjökull lost its glacier status.
Now, it’s just a shield volcano with no glacial cover at all.
Who attended funeral?
The “funeral” was attended by Iceland’s Prime Minister Katrin Jakobsdottir and former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson, besides the researchers who initiated the project.
“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,” Jakobsdottir told AFP.
AP reported that the glacier was even issued a death certificate.
Andri Snaer Magnason, the author of the memorial, did not mince his words in his eulogy featured on the plaque.
“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.”
What is the significance?
The memorial also included the number 415ppm CO2.
This refers to the record level of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere reached in May 2019 — the first time in human history.
Anthropologist Cymene Howe from Rice University said: “This will be the first monument to a glacier lost to climate change anywhere in the world.”
Unfortunately, this is very likely the direct result of climate change, and this will not be the last glacier to have this fate.
Many glaciers on Earth are losing a huge amount of ice to a warming climate.
Asia’s mountain glaciers rapidly melting is depleting the water resources of the region’s people.
Antarctica alone is losing 252 billion tonnes of ice annually.