Image: Rice University Press Release

‘First Glacier Lost to Climate Change’ to be Memorialised

 In Nature, News, Sci & Tech

The former Okjökull glacier will be memorialised with a monument recognising its status as “the first Icelandic glacier to lose its status as a glacier.” A press release from Rice University announced that Researchers from Rice University in Houston, Texas (US), author Andri Snær Magnason, and geologist Oddur Sigurðsson will join members of the Icelandic Hiking Society and the general public to install the monument to the former glacier in Borgarfjörður, West Iceland on August 18, 2019.

 

Rice University Press Release

The monument is styled as a “Letter to the future,” and reads:

Ok is the first 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. Ágúst 2019, 415ppm CO2

Okjökull, or Ok Glacier, was the subject of a 2018 documentary called Not Ok, made by Rice anthropologists Cymene Howe and Dominic Boyer. Narrated by former Reykjavík mayor and comedian Jón Gnarr, Not Ok tells how in 2014, Ok became the first glacier in Iceland to melt and thereby “lose its title” as a glacier. Scientists credit Ok’s melting to global warming. According to the filmmakers, scientists fear that all of Iceland’s 400-plus glaciers will be gone by 2200.

“By marking Ok’s passing, we hope to draw attention to what is being lost as Earth’s glaciers expire,” Cymene remarked in the press release. “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.” The monument is said to be the first of its kind in the world.

“One of our Icelandic colleagues put it very wisely when he said, ‘Memorials are not for the dead; they are for the living,'” Cymene continued. “With this memorial, we want to underscore that it is up to us, the living, to collectively respond to the rapid loss of glaciers and the ongoing impacts of climate change. For Ok glacier it is already too late; it is now what scientists call ‘dead ice.'”

You can find more information about the documentary and RSVP to take part in the monument ceremony at https://www.notokmovie.com.

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