Iceland has just buried its first glacier. May this funeral give us food for thought

Let's hurry to love glaciers, they began to melt so quickly. Worried about the future of our planet, the Icelandic authorities organized a symbolic funeral of the Okjokull glacier, which melted first.

Until recently, this block of ice that did not disturb anyone covered an area of ​​15 square kilometers. Unfortunately, due to the rising temperature on our planet, almost nothing is left of Okjökull.

Glacier burial in Iceland

No, Icelanders have not gone crazy. The whole event must be treated as an ecological happening, which aims to draw the attention of the whole world to our growing problem of climate warming. Therefore, on the hill of Ok volcano, in a place where until recently the sculpture of Okjokull could be admired, representatives of the Icelandic authorities (including Prime Minister Katrin Jakobsdottir and Minister of the Environment Gudmundur Inga Gudbrandsson) gathered to commemorate his symbolic departure.

From the visit of politicians, a much more important symbol, created for future generations, is the plaque itself commemorating the place of evaporation of Okjokull:

Its content is as follows:

Okjokull is Iceland's first glacier to lose its status. Over the next 200 years, our other glaciers will probably face the same fate. This monument is to confirm that we knew what was going on and saw what we had to do. Only you know if we did it.

August 2019, 415 ppm CO2

The author of the sentence, Icelandic writer Andri Snaer Magnason hopes that future generations, in a few decades, instead of cursing our inaction, will be grateful that together effort we managed to stop the warming of the Earth's atmosphere. I keep my fingers crossed for this scenario.

Glaciers are melting at a record pace. Not only in Iceland

Antarctica is a much larger ticking time bomb. According to scientists, the entire ice cover of that area melts almost six times faster than 40 years ago. In the 1980s, it lost around 40 billion tons of ice a year. Currently, the value is 252 billion tons per year and ... due to currently observed climate change it is still accelerating. Currently, this process is being studied on the basis of the Thwaites glacier observation.

After reaching a critical point, Thwaites may lose all ice in 150 years. This would raise the sea level by about half a meter - says Helene Seroussi, research author and NASA researcher.

Why is this happening? Antarctica is surrounded by ice caps and floating ice shelves that form a physical barrier between the ocean and inland ice on the continent. These floating sheets behave like a dam that prevents continental ice from entering the ocean, where it would melt causing global sea-level rise.

As the ocean temperature rises, warmer water at the base of these ice covers leads to their melting from below. This melting, in turn, causes defects in glaciers. This is how the pit in Thwaites was created, discovered by scientists from NASA. If the entire Thwaites Glacier had melted, according to the latest research, it would increase the sea level in the world by about 0.5 meters.

This could be the beginning of a chain reaction

The matter becomes even more problematic, because Thwaites also prevents neighboring glaciers from getting into the ocean. Some other scientists believe that if it had completely melted, it could also destabilize the glaciers surrounding it. This would mean another rise in the oceans' water level and would probably trigger a new massive climate emigration .

This scenario was also analyzed by Dr. E. Hauer from the University of Georgia. In his opinion, the rising level of the oceans will mean that within the United States alone 13 million people will have to change their place of residence. Of course, such a large migration will not be evenly distributed.

Hauer's research shows that, for example, Austin, which currently has a population of 2.1 million, will be "enriched" with an additional 800,000, and approximately 2/3 of Louisiana residents will have to move to higher areas within the same state. Or run to Texas, Mississippi or Georgia.

An increase in sea level would be equally problematic in our country. One meter up would mean that the Baltic Sea would absorb practically all of Żuławy, a large part of Elbląg and Gdańsk, and we would have a new beach under the Teutonic Knights' fortress in Malbork. With access to the sea of ​​course. So far, we are not doing anything that could stop the melting of glaciers in Antarctica, so the scenario presented above is very real, but distant in time.

PS Here is a map that you can play and see what happens if the level of water in the seas and oceans rises by a meter or a few meters.

Iceland has just buried its first glacier. May this funeral give us food for thought


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