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Coordinates: 64°35′53″N 20°52′52″W / 64.598°N 20.881°W / 64.598; -20.881
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Okjökull in September 2003.
Photo: Oddur Sigurðsson
Coordinates64°35′53″N 20°52′52″W / 64.598°N 20.881°W / 64.598; -20.881
Thicknessless than 50 m (160 ft)[1]: 35 
StatusFormer glacier

Okjökull (Icelandic pronunciation: [ˈɔkˌjœːkʏtl̥], Ok glacier) was a glacier in western Iceland on top of the shield volcano Ok.[2]

Ok is located north-east of Reykjavík. The glacier was declared dead in 2014 by glaciologist Oddur Sigurðsson by reason of its lack of the thickness. Ice crystals in glaciers collapse under their own weight to form solid ice capable of movement due to central gravitational pressure only when the ice is around forty to fifty metres thick.[1]: 35, 42  By 2017 it no longer meet this criteria in thickness and was less than the 2015 area of 0.7 km2 (0.27 sq mi) which in turn was much less that its 15 km2 (5.8 sq mi) size at the start of the twentieth century.[1]: 35 

Commemorative plaque[edit]

Plaque at the monument.
Photo: Rice University

In 2018, anthropologists Cymene Howe and Dominic Boyer of Rice University filmed a documentary about its loss, Not Ok, and proposed a commemorative plaque.[2][3][4] The plaque was installed on August 18, 2019,[5] with an inscription written by Andri Snær Magnason, titled "A letter to the future", in Icelandic and English. The English version reads:[3][6]

A letter to the future

Ok is the first Icelandic glacier to lose its status as a glacier. The
In the next 200 years all our glaciers are expected to follow the same path.
This monument is to acknowledge that we know
what is happening and what needs to be done.
Only you know if we did it.

At the end is the global atmospheric carbon dioxide reading for that month: 415 ppm. The ceremony was attended by Katrín Jakobsdóttir, the Prime Minister of Iceland; Guðmundur Ingi Guðbrandsson, the Environment Minister; and Mary Robinson, the former President of Ireland.[3] The placement of the plaque is intended to raise awareness of the decline of Iceland's glaciers due to global warming.[3][7] Prior to the ceremony, NASA Earth Observatory tweeted images of Okjökull in 1986 and 2019.[4]

The Okjökull memorial plaque can be found at the coordinates, N 64°35.498' W 020°52.253' at an elevation of 1,114 meters (3,655 feet).


  1. ^ a b c Howe, C.; Boyer, D. (2024). "The Okjökull Memorial and Geohuman Relations". Social Anthropology/Anthropologie sociale. 32 (1): 30–45. doi:10.3167/saas.2024.320104.
  2. ^ a b Hu, Jane C. (July 4, 2019). "How Can You Tell When a Glacier Is Dead?". Slate Magazine. Retrieved July 24, 2019.
  3. ^ a b c d Luckhurst, Toby (August 18, 2019). "Iceland's Okjokull glacier commemorated with plaque". BBC News.
  4. ^ a b Hallgerður Kolbrún E. Jónsdóttir (August 13, 2019). "Nasa birtir myndir af hverfandi ísbreiðu Oks". Vísir (in Icelandic).
  5. ^ Arnar Þór Ingólfsson (August 18, 2019). "Okkjökull kvaddur með viðhöfn". Morgunblaðið (in Icelandic).
  6. ^ Osborne, Hannah (July 23, 2019). "Iceland Is About to Hold a Memorial for Its First Glacier Lost to Climate Change". Newsweek. Retrieved July 24, 2019.
  7. ^ Rice, Doyle (July 23, 2019). "'Killed' by climate change: Iceland to erect memorial to lost glacier". USA Today. Retrieved July 23, 2019.