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Funeral Held for Icelandic Glacier: Okjökull

Nature & Environmental: Writer Ben Dolbear Tells Us About The Impact Climate Change Is Having On Iceland And Beyond.

Photo by Keri Melich


The Icelandic people have held a funeral for a glacier, the first well known glacier to be lost to the climate crisis. Okjökull, once located on the volcanic mountain Ok in western Iceland, has also received tributes from the NASA Earth Observatory.


It is the first glacier in Iceland to have lost its status as a glacier, and has drawn to the collective attention of the world's people the immediacy and pace of climate change. In August, the anthropologists, Sigurðsson, and other climate carers hiked to a point on Ok and affixed the plaque to one of its rocks. Written in by author and poet Andri Snær Magnason:


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 will know if we did it. August 2019 | 415 ppm CO2

Okjökull decreased in size throughout the twentieth century, and was officially declared dead in 2014. In 1901, it is estimated that the glacier spanned an impressive area of fifteen miles, shrinking to under two by 1978, according to aerial photography.


Today, less than 1 square mile (0.5 kilometres) remains.

According to NASA, 'Glaciers form from snow that becomes compacted into ice over time. The ice then creeps downslope under its own weight, helped along by gravity'. In the case of Okjökull, its thinning has progressed at such an alarming rate so as to render the flowing of ice impossible.


Iceland has 400 glaciers, and experts are predicting these could all disappear by 2200.

The glacier was part of the Langjökull group, one of eight regional groupings of glaciers, all of which are expected to disappear in the next two hundred years.


The trend is global.


A paper produced in 2017 suggests, the European Alps have lost 54 percent of ice area since 1850, whilst Bolivian glaciers have lost almost 50 percent of their mass in the past 50 years, furthermore glaciers in the Himalayas and Canada are also reseeding quickly.


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