Climate change eats up glacier

Glaciologists had stripped Okjokull of its glacier status in 2014 a first for Iceland

Glaciologists had stripped Okjokull of its glacier status in 2014 a first for Iceland

Sunday in Iceland was a day to commemorate the loss of the first glacier due to global warming.

Okjokull will now just be called "Ok", without the Icelandic word for glacier, "jokull".

Around 100 people walked up the mountain for the ceremony, including Iceland's prime minister, Katrin Jakobsdottir, former UN human rights commissioner, Mary Robinson, and local reseachers and colleagues from the United States from who pioneered the commemoration project. After opening remarks by Jakobsdottir at the ceremony, mourners walked up the volcano northeast of the capital Reykjavik to lay a plaque which carries a letter to the future.

This was Iceland's first glacier to disappear, but Dr Sigurdsson said all of the nation's ice masses would be gone in 200 years. "Only you know if we have done it".

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A girl poses with a placard walks to the plaque site. This was the record level of carbon dioxide measured in the atmosphere in May a year ago.

One of the mourners was 17-year-old Gunnhildur Hallgrimsdottir.

"Seeing a glacier disappear is something you can feel, you can understand it and it's pretty visual", he told AFP.

"Climate change doesn't have a beginning or end and I think the philosophy behind this plaque is to place this warning sign to remind ourselves that historical events are happening, and we should not normalise them".

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The plaque is unveiled.

With poetry, moments of silence and political speeches about the urgent need to fight climate change, Icelandic officials, activists and others said their official goodbyes to what once was the attractive glacier of Okjökull.

According to a study published by the International Union for Conservation of Nature in April, almost half of the world's heritage sites could lose their glaciers by 2100 if greenhouse gas emissions continue at the current rate. Iceland is planning to mark the passing of Okjokull, its first glacier lost to climate change which threatens some 400 others on the subarctic island. Glaciers cover about 11% of the country's surface.

Icelandic geologist Oddur Sigursson pronounced the Okjokull glacier extinct about a decade ago.

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Okjokull glacier was declared dead in 2014.

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