‘This is a warning’: Iceland holds funeral for lost glacier

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Iceland held a funeral for its first glacier lost to climate change on Sunday.

Amid poetry, moments of silence and political speeches about the urgent need to fight climate change, Icelandic officials, scientists, activists and others bade goodbye to the Okjokull ice sheet, in west-central Iceland.

According to satellite images from the NASA Earth Observatory, the glacier appeared as a solid-white patch in 1986, and Icelandic geologist Oddur Sigurðsson said it used to stretch six square miles (15 square kilometres).

A geological map from 1901 estimated Okjokull spanned an area of about 38 square kilometres (15 square miles).

Mr Sigurðsson pronounced Okjokull dead about a decade ago after it melted throughout the 20th century. In 2014, it no longer fulfilled the criteria to be classified as a glacier.

Mr Sigurðsson said that while it was Iceland’s first glacier to disappear, all of the nation’s ice masses will be gone in 200 years.

“There is no longer any doubt that the climate in the Arctic is changing markedly and rapidly,” said Minik Rosing, professor at the University of Copenhagen.

“All of the Nordic countries comprise Arctic territories, where climate change has gone from theoretical predictions of the future to everyday reality,” he said.