Researchers to commemorate first 'dead' glacier with plaque, memorial service in Iceland

PHOTO: A plaque commemorates the Okjokull Glacier, the first to lose its glacier status, which will be unveiled at a memorial service in Iceland on Aug. 18. PlayRice University
WATCH News headlines today: Aug. 19, 2019

Researchers and members of the Icelandic community will commemorate the first lost glacier with a plaque and memorial service at the site where it once stood.

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The Okjökull Glacier in Borgarfjörður, West Iceland, lost its glacier status in 2014 after it significantly melted down, according to Rice University in Houston. Now, as "dead ice," the former glacier is simply known as "Ok."

A century ago, the glacier covered 5.8 squire miles of mountainside and measured in at 164 feet thick, but has since shrunk down to about .39 square miles and 49 feet thick, according to The Guardian.

On Aug. 18, scientists will join Icelandic author Andri Snær Magnason, geologist Oddur Sigurðsson -- the glaciologist who first declared Okjökull as "dead" -- and the Icelandic Hiking Society to present the monument to citizens, according to Rice University.

PHOTO: A plaque commemorates the Okjokull Glacier, the first to lose its glacier status, which will be unveiled at a memorial service in Iceland on Aug. 18. Rice University
A plaque commemorates the Okjokull Glacier, the first to lose its glacier status, which will be unveiled at a memorial service in Iceland on Aug. 18.

Magnason authored the text on the plaque, which, "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 former glacier was the subject of 2018 documentary "Not Ok," in which anthropologists Cymene Howe and Dominic Boyer said that scientists fear all of Iceland's 400-plus glaciers will be gone by 2220.

PHOTO: A plaque commemorates the Okjokull Glacier, the first to lose its glacier status, which will be unveiled at a memorial service in Iceland on Aug. 18. Rice University
A plaque commemorates the Okjokull Glacier, the first to lose its glacier status, which will be unveiled at a memorial service in Iceland on Aug. 18.

The plaque is the first monument dedicated to a glacier lost to climate change, Howe said in a statement. The group behind it wanted to created a "lasting memorial" to the glacier, hoping it will raise awareness about the rapid decline of Iceland's glaciers, she said.

"By marking Ok’s passing, we hope to draw attention to what is being lost as Earth’s glaciers expire," she said. "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."