Most of the tourists who come to Iceland for a vacation would expect to go snowmobiling or scrambling at the beautiful snowy sights of the country. However, there is one country tour in Iceland around the area of the Nordic Iceland that could be nothing more than melancholic. It is a trek not to experience another glacier but to mourn its absence.
In August 2019, a group of individuals will be going in an Un-Glacier Tour. They will be holding a funeral of some sort to mourn the end of the glacier that was once considered as the one that hugged a snow-stuffed crater on Ok, a volcano at the center of the west-central Iceland. The participants of the trek will be walking up its pebbled slope and will be instilling a plaque to eulogize the glacier that vanished in this lifetime. The trek bleats a warning of what else could happen if people do not do anything to battle climate change.
The creaking and the constant motion of the rocks with strips of dirt and rocks offers the most tangible proof that a glacier was once there. It will smell of the Earth and mineral and the reporters of the trek will have to describe it as if it were describing its anatomy. “The scientists of the study will have to use the terms snout and tongue, almost as if they are describing a real life creature,” says Cymene Howe. She is a practicing anthropologist from Rice University who specializes in the social, cultural, and political fallout of the disappearance of ice.
But there is nothing in this world that lives forever, not even the glaciers of Iceland. Glaciers, too, are going down to their graves and this practically includes the Okjokull. In fact, scientists have recently taken it down from the list of glaciers in the country. For it to be considered a glacier, the mass must have “enough ice that will deform its own weight,” says Twilla Moon, a research scientist from the National Snow and Ice Data Center.
An active mountain glaciers accumulates ice and snow that as the bulk of it builds up, the pressure builds up as well. The ice will slowly go downhill. When the melting of the ice outpaces the accumulation, the glacier becomes smaller. Then, it is called something else — a snow field, or dead ice. But at that point, it is no longer a glacier.
It can be quite to determine whether a glacier has died. “It is usually impossible to identify the exact time the glacier falls under the category of no longer a glacier,” says Oddur Sigurosson, a glaciologist with the Icelandic Meteorological Office. They are the government agency that declared the Okjokull officially a dead glacier in 2014.
Such decline in the number of glaciers in Iceland and the other regions of the world should serve as a wake up call. It doesn’t happen every day, but when it does, it should remind people of their contributions to world destruction, particularly through the fact that a glacier can be no longer a glacier.