Iceland to mark first glacier lost to climate change
Come October 18, Iceland will issue a plaque that will mark an unusual event – the passing of a glacier lost to climate change. It will be the first monument of its kind.Updated: Jul 29, 2019 13:04 IST
OCTOBER 18, 2019
On this day, a plaque will be unveiled to Okjokull -- which translates to ‘OK glacier’ -- in the west of Iceland, local researchers and their peers at Rice University in the United States, who initiated the project, said. “This will be the first monument to a glacier lost to climate change anywhere in the world,” Cymene Howe, Associate Professor of Anthropology at Rice University, said in a statement.
By that year, nearly half of the world’s heritage sites could lose their glaciers if greenhouse gas emissions continue at the current rate. “These bodies of ice are the largest freshwater reserves on the planet and frozen within them are histories of the atmosphere,” says Howe. Glaciologists stripped Okjokull of its glacier satus in 2014 .
The thickness that ice and snow must have to get the status of glacier. The Okjokull was one of the 400 glaciers on the subarctic island. Iceland’s Vatnajokull National Park, which was added to the World Heritage List of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization this month, is home to and named after the largest ice cap in Europe.
Icelanders call their nation the ‘Land of Fire and Ice’ for its other-worldly landscape of volcanoes and glaciers, immortalized in literature. But the glaciers are melting and scientists say rising global temperatures are to blame. The shrinking of the glaciers heralds profound shifts in Iceland’s weather patterns, water flows, flora and fauna, according to the Icelandic Meteorological Office. WARNING Volcanic activity may increase, as the melting of glaciers relieves pressure on volcanic systems. This could lead to floods of historic proportions, known as “jökulhlaups” which could alter landscapes, devastate vegetation and threaten lives and infrastructure, scientists have warned.
SHUTTERSTOCK GRAPHIC: BISWENDU CHOWDHURY square kilometres — the glacier ice covered in 1890 0.7 square kilometres it measured by 2012
‘A LETTER TO THE FUTURE’
is the title of the memorial OK which, the researchers hope, will raise awareness about the decline of glaciers and the effects of climate change.
“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,” the plaque reads.
First Published: Jul 29, 2019 12:59 IST