Reykjavik, 19 August 2019 (dpa/MIA) – Iceland officially declared the first “death” of a glacier in the country in a Sunday ceremony attended by Prime Minister Katrin Jakobsdottir.
Okjokull – Ok for short – lost its status as a glacier in 2014, since the retreating and melting ice meant it could not longer move on the top of a volcano on which it had sat for about 700 years.
Geologist Oddur Sigurdsson unveiled an informal plaque marking the death of the glacier with “a letter to the future” in a ceremony also attended by former Irish President and human rights advocate Mary Robinson.
“In the next 200 years all our main 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,” the plaque reads.
Sigurdsson, who is linked to Rice University in Houston, Texas, has for many years monitored the size and thickness of the glacier, located north-east of the capital.
To be considered a glacier, the ice must be 40 to 50 metres thick and move under its own weight. The ice on Ok is only about 15 metres thick, creating insufficient pressure for it to move.
It concluded with the date August 2019 and “415 ppmCO2” referring to the global concentration of carbon dioxide in the air – 415 parts per million (ppm).
Climate is expected to be a topic this week when Jakobsdottir hosts Nordic prime ministers and German Chancellor Angela Merkel for an informal meeting.
Iceland holds the presidency of the Nordic Council of Ministers that groups Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden as well as self-ruling territories like Greenland.