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First glacier to disappear in Iceland will be marked with memorial

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First glacier to disappear in Iceland will be marked with memorial
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This is the site of Iceland's first ex-glacier.

A monument will be erected next month to mark the Okjokull glacier becoming the first in the Nordic country to lose its status.

Over the next 200 years, glaciologists expect all of Iceland's 400 glaciers to have disappeared, including its largest, Vatna.

Scientists declared five years ago that the Okjokull or OK glacier had become too thin to flow forward under its own weight.

But it is only next month that a plaque will be installed.

It will read: “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 melted glacier was the subject of a 2018 documentary called “Not Ok”, produced by Houston's Rice University anthropologists Cymene Howe and Dominic Boyer.

“This will be the first monument to a glacier lost to climate change anywhere in the world,” Howe said. “By marking Ok’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 histories of the atmosphere.

"They are also often important cultural forms that are full of significance.”

Howe said one of his Icelandic colleagues commented: "Memorials are not for the dead; they are for the living."

"With this memorial they want to underscore that it is up to us, the living, to collectively respond to the rapid loss of glaciers and the ongoing impacts of climate change," added Howe. "For Ok glacier, it is already too late."

Glaciers in Antarctica and Greenland have been melting at an alarming rate, scientists have said.

Warm ocean water has been seeping beneath the ice and starting the melting process, bottom-up. Ice covering the Arctic Ocean has also been melting at an alarming rate.

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