World's 'Doomsday' seed vault has been breached by climate change

The idea of the seed vault is to provide a backup in case certain crops go extinct. Should anyone survive Armageddon, they can use these seeds to start from scratch, assuming they know of the storehouse's existence.

However, as reported by The Guardian, the water hasn't yet completely infested the vault itself. Carved into the side of a mountain, the vault holds more than 500 million seeds from around the globe that could be used to recreate food supplies. "It might not help the road leading up to the seed vault, but the seeds themselves would be ok". When it was constructed, the Global Seed Vault was embedded deep into the arctic permafrost and placed 130 meters into the rock and 130 meters above sea level.

The "Svalbard Global Seed Vault" also called the "Doomsday" vault, located in northern Norway - created to deliver "fail-safe" fortification for agricultural developments against any catastrophes was breached by water, coming from the liquefying permafrost this week. The seed collection, now numbering between 800,000 and 900,000 samples, is kept at a chilly temperature of minus-18 degrees Celsius, or about 0 degrees Fahrenheit.

What the designers weren't counting on so much: floods linked to climate change. When ice and snow melts in the Arctic during summer, permafrost-theoretically "permanent"-does not". The seed vault was supposed to maintain a storage temperature of -18C, without human supervision, but now operators are monitoring it night and day.

"The seeds in the seed vault have never been threatened".

The doomsday vault is situated at the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen in the Svalbard archipelago. The resulting breach at Svalbard is making experts question the "fail-safe" nature of the vault.

Further, they have also removed any heat-producing electrical equipment from the tunnel, and installed pumps in case of any future flooding. As global warming accelerated in recent decades, the Arctic warmed faster than the rest of the planet, and that trend is expected to continue. The vault contains more than 4,000 plant species from around the world, which sit sealed in chambers chilled to around zero degrees Fahrenheit.

'Svalbard Global Seed Vault is facing technical improvements in connection with water intrusion, ' Norwegian state construction group Statsbygg, which built the vault that opened in 2008, said in a statement on Saturday.

While the designers of the vault seem to have taken the possibilities of nuclear wars and global pandemics into account, they may have given too little thought to one other serious threat: global warming. "We are doing this for the world", Åsmund Asdal at the Nordic Genetic Resource Centre, which operates the seed vault, told The Guardian.

  • Joe Gonzales