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Scientists in Iceland plan to lay a memorial plaque on August 18 at the site of a former glacier that has been lost to climate change. They hope the symbolic act will help raise public awareness of the threat of global warming to the world’s glaciers and icecaps.
The Okjökull, in the west of Iceland, spanned an area of 16 km2 towards the end of the 19th century. But by 2012, it had shrunk to a mere 0.7 km2. It officially lost its status as a glacier in 2014, becoming the first glacier to disappear in Iceland due to manmade climate change.
Next month, scientists will trek to where the glacier once flowed to erect a memorial, including a plaque with a message addressed to future generations.
“In the next 200 years all our glaciers are expected to follow the same path,” it will read. “This monument is to acknowledge that we know what is happening and what needs to be done. Only you know if we did it.”
Global warming is already threatening glaciers elsewhere in Iceland. At the Vatnajökull National Park in the south of the country, a World Heritage site home to Europe’s largest icecap, half the glaciers are expected to disappear by the year 2100 if greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise at the current rate.