Iceland mourns first glacier lost to climate change

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Iceland has said goodbye to its first glacier lost to climate change.

Children placed a memorial plaque on the ground where the Okjokull Glacier used to be following a two-hour hike up a volcano.

Around 100 people, including politicians, scientists and journalists, observed moments of silence and heard poetry and political speeches about the urgent need to fight climate change.

Image: The Okjokull glacier pictured in September 1986 (L) and August 2019 (R). Pic: NASA

Iceland’s Prime Minister Katrin Jakobsdottir and former Irish president Mary Robinson, the United Nations High Commissioner, were among those at the funeral for the Okjokull Glacier.

The glacier, ironically nicknamed OK, covered 6.2 square miles (16 square km) in 1890, but was stripped of its glacier status in 2014.

A monument was unveiled at the site of Okjokull, Iceland's first glacier lost to climate change

Image: A monument was unveiled at the site of Okjokull

Icelandic geologist Oddur Sigurdsson, who pronounced the glacier extinct about a decade ago, took a death certificate to the memorial.

The plaque is billed as “a letter to the future” and warns all glaciers are expected to be extinct within the next 200 years.

More from Iceland

People look at the snow at the old glacier

Image: The glacier is nicknamed OK

“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.

The plaque warns all glaciers are expected to be extinct within the next 200 years.

Image: The plaque warns all glaciers are expected to be extinct within the next 200 years

Ms Jakobsdottir said: “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.”

To be classified as a glacier, the mass of ice and snow must be thick enough to move by its own weight.

Kayakers 'lucky to be alive' after glacier collapse

Kayakers ‘lucky to be alive’ after glacier collapse

A huge splash from the collapsing glacial bridge fired water and shards of ice at the pair, before an enormous wave followed

Nearly half of the world’s heritage sites could lose their glaciers by 2100 if greenhouse gas emissions continue at the current rate, according to a study by the International Union for Conservation of Nature published in April.

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