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Preventing water crises

Icelandic glacier to be remembered by monument

A monument is to be erected to honour the glacier that was first lost to global warming in Iceland. The plaque will feature a note to future generations, as well.

The Okjökull was one of the country’s four hundred glaciers, and a hundred years ago it was 50 metres thick and occupied 15 square kilometres in the western, mountainous region of Iceland. Today, it has shrunk to only one square kilometre and it is less than 15 metres thick, which means that it is no longer classified as a glacier, and even the word ’jökull’, meaning ’glacier’ in Icelandic has been removed from its name: it is now simply known as Ok.

The monument’s plaque will feature the following note:

“The 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.”

According to Rice University anthropologist Cymene Howe, this is the world’s first commemorative monument to be erected for a glacier that has fallen victim to climate change. She also added that emphasising the event in this way may focus attention on the loss.

“These bodies of ice are the largest freshwater reserves on the planet and frozen within them are histories of the atmosphere,” she said, and added a warning: “[Okjökull’s] fate will be shared by all of Iceland’s glaciers unless we act now to radically curtail greenhouse gas emissions.”

Below the date, the plaque features the words “415 ppm CO2,” which refers to the record value measured in the atmosphere this May: the carbon dioxide concentration of the atmosphere has exceeded 415 parts per million
by volume
Photo: Rice University. Photo credits: Dominic Boyer/Cymene Howe

Source: MTI – Hungarian News Agency

Further information: Rice University

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