Iceland holds ceremony for first glacier lost to climate change

19 Août, 2019, 16:07 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
  • People walk on snow atop the OK volcano crater

"We are seeing the faces of climate crisis differently around the world, but it's the same crisis".

Mourners in Iceland have gathered to commemorate Okjokull, a 700-year-old glacier that was declared dead five years ago and has shriveled to a small patch of ice atop a volcano.

Iceland loses about 11 billion tonnes of ice per year, and scientists fear all of the island's 400-plus glaciers will be gone by 2200, according to Howe.

"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 July.

"In the next 200 years all our main glaciers are expected to follow the same path". With the title "A letter to the future" the plaque reads "This monument is to acknowledge that we know what is happening and what needs to be done".

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Prime Minister Katrin Jakobsdóttir and Environment Minister Gudmundur Ingi Gudbrandsson were joined Sunday by about 100 people who made a two-hour trek up the volcano, where kids installed a plaque at the site of the former frozen behemoth. Glaciologists stripped Okjokull of its glacier status in 2014, a first for Iceland. "Only you know if we did it".

"But if the predictions of the scientists. if we see them happening, we will see other glaciers disappear in the next decades and centuries, which is obviously a very big thing for our landscape, nature, ecosystem, but also for our energy system because we produce renewable energies from the glacier rivers".

In 2000, glaciologist Oddur Sigurdsson made a map of all the glaciers around Iceland and found more than 300.

In 1890, Okjokull covered 16 square kilometers (6.2 square miles), but by 2012, it measured just 0.7 square kilometers. Scientists see the shrinking of glaciers as one of many warning signs that the earth's climate is lurching towards risky tipping points. For that to happen the mass must be approximately 40 to 50 metres (130 to 165 feet) thick, he said.

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