This Ominous Memorial Mourns The First Glacier Lost To Climate Change
An ominous warning to the future has been erected in Iceland, after the world's first glacier was lost to climate change.
The Scandinavian country has placed a memorial to the Okjökull (or Ok) glacier. It stretched approximately 15 square kilometres a century ago -- but now the patch of ice is less than one kilometre square, and lost its glacier status in 2014.
The memorial plaque, the first of its kind in the world, is titled "A letter to the future" and tells future generations "only you know" if the world managed to fight climate change effectively.
The plaque is also labelled with "415 ppm CO2" to document the record level of atmospheric carbon in the atmosphere surpassed in May of this year.
Geologist Oddur Sigurdsson told the AFP that to have the status of a glacier "the mass of ice and snow must be thick enough to move by its own weight" and the Ok glacier is now too small to budge.
Ok has also melted down into a different type of terrain than the ice typically seen in glaciers -- a combination of slit, clay, sand and gravel.
The rest of Iceland's 400 glaciers are now in danger of the same fate, with all of the glaciers expected to follow over the next two centuries.
June 2019 was the hottest ever recorded, with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reporting average temperatures in Europe were more than two degrees Celsius above normal.
Temperatures were about 0.1 Celsius higher than the month that previously held the record -- June 2016.
Climate scientists predict a sharp rise in temperature in the far north of the globe, creating a tipping point for climate change.
These points 'beyond return' are caused in part by the loss of glaciers -- as sea ice melts, the dark water underneath is exposed, which absorbs more heat, creating a feedback loop of warming.
The Ok memorial plaque was inspired by the "Not Ok" documentary, a 2018 film that looked at the loss of the glacier.
Co-creator of the documentary and anthropologist at Rice University, Cymene Howe, said that by marking the glacier's passing "we hope to draw attention to what is being lost as Earth's glaciers expire."
"These bodies of ice are the largest freshwater reserves on the planet and frozen within them are the histories of the atmosphere".