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‘Doomsday’ Seed Vault Hit By Melting Ice Waters Safe, For Now

Photo from Wikipedia

The famed “Doomsday seed vault” buried deep under a remote mountain in Norway is safe for now, the country’s government officials declared.

Melting permafrost in the area sent “meltwater gushing into the entrance tunnel” last year, according to the Guardian. The waters threatened to flood the structure’s precious collection of seeds. Officially called the Svalbard Seed Vault, it has been nicknamed the “Doomsday vault” because it contains seeds for every crop humanity would need in order to resume life should a catastrophe happen, USA Today reports.

The vault has seed samples, as well as duplicate samples, preserved under very specific conditions should a wide-scale tragedy ever strike the Earth. It can hold 4.5 million seed samples from around the world, keeping them safe from climate change, wars, natural disasters and more. As of now, it has the seeds of tens of thousands of essential food crops such as corn, beans, rice and wheat.

Situated 620 miles from the North Pole, the vault sits on the island of Spitsbergen, and is the world’s largest and most secure seed storage facility. It was opened by the Norwegian government in 2008, and crates of seeds are sent there from all around the globe for long-term storage in cold, dry rock lockers.

According to the Svalbard Seed Vault website,

The building is designed for virtually infinite lifetime. By building the vault 130 meters into the rock and 130 meters above sea level, the facility is robustly secured against external hazards and climate change effects.

But as last year proved, climate change may be a bigger challenge than the government initially thought. The Arctic has been undergoing extreme warming in the past decades due to climate change, leading to melting icecaps, thus the meltwater problem.

Hege Njaa Aschim from the Norwegian government said, “It was not in our plans to think that the permafrost would not be there and that it would experience extreme weather like that.” Fortunately, the meltwater did not reach the actual vault, and the seeds remain safe.

A statement from the vault said, “The seeds are completely safe and no damage has been done to the facility.” Those running it are “taking appropriate measures to ensure the protection of the seed vault and improve the construction to prevent future incidents. Globally, the seed vault is, and will continue to be, the safest backup of crop diversity.”

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