Okjökull

Okjökull was the first major Icelandic glacier to disappear because of climate change. Icelandic glaciologist Oddur Sigurdsson discovered Okjökull’s disappearance in 2014 but the news did not receive a great deal of attention, even in Iceland. In 2017 Cymene Howe and I created a short film to spread the news of Okjökull’s loss called, Not Ok: a little movie about a small glacier at the end of the world (https://www.notokmovie.com). In 2018 we organized the world’s first Un-glacier Tour together with the Icelandic Hiking Society to bring people to the site of the former glacier. Over the next year, we worked together with Icelandic collaborators and the municipal authorities in Borgarnes to create a bronze plaque memorial to Okjökull with a text provided by the Icelandic writer Andri Snaer Magnason. In August 2019 news of the memorial went viral eventually being covered by BBC, CNN, MSNBC, The Washington Post, The Economist, Der Spiegel, and the Associated Press among over 10,000 media outlets across the world. In October 2019, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti read aloud the text of the Okjökull plaque when he became Chairperson of the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group.

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Photo credit: Sigtryggur Ari Johannson

NASA handout image taken on August 1, 2019 showing the top of the Ok Volcano where the Okjokull glacier has melted away throughout the 20th century and was declared dead in 2014. Iceland is planning to mark the passing of Okjokull, its first glacier lost to climate change which threatens some 400 others on the subarctic island.

NASA Earth Observatory images by Joshua Stevens, using Landsat data from the U.S. Geological Survey.

© 2020 Dominic Boyer