Lost glacier to be honored with memorial monument

Iceland’s first glacier lost to climate change will be remembered with a monument to be unveiled next month at the site of the former glacier.


Monument picture
Researchers from Rice University in Houston, author Andri Snær Magnason and geologist Oddur Sigurðsson will join members of the Icelandic Hiking Society and the general public Aug. 18 to install a monument recognizing the site of the former Okjökull glacier in Borgarfjörður, Iceland.

The melted glacier was the subject of the 2018 documentary “Not Ok,” produced by Rice anthropologists Cymene Howe and Dominic Boyer. The film, narrated by former Reykjavík Mayor Jón Gnarr, tells the story of “Ok,” which in 2014 became the first glacier in Iceland to lose its title because of global warming. Boyer and Howe said scientists fear all of the island nation’s 400-plus glaciers will be gone by 2200.

“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.”


The former glacier Okjökull.
“In the same spirit as the film, we wanted to create a lasting memorial to Ok, a small glacier that has a big story to tell,” Boyer said. “Ok was the first named Icelandic glacier to melt because of how humans have transformed the planet’s atmosphere. Its fate will be shared by all of Iceland’s glaciers unless we act now to radically curtail greenhouse gas emissions.”

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