Friday, 20 October, 2017

'Doomsday' seed vault flooded and a warmer planet is to blame

The Svalbard Global Seed Vault is meant to withstand nuclear fallout. It wasn't expecting this The Svalbard Global Seed Vault is meant to withstand nuclear fallout. It wasn't expecting this
Heather Davidson | 25 May, 2017, 01:19

The vault hold the seeds of many tens of thousands of varieties of essential food crops such as beans, wheat and rice. The entrance to the vault flooded, then froze when the temperature dropped.

When the designers of the popularly-named "Doomsday" seed vault were building their creation, they meant to protect its precious cargo from whatever disasters might befall human civilization. Fortunately none of the seeds were compromised. The location was ideal inside a mountain in the Arctic Circle. Hege Njaa Aschim, a spokeswoman for the management company, Statsbygg, said water seeped only about 15 meters in to part of an access tunnel during the "very unusual warm and rainy October". The vault was developed by renowned conservationist Cary Fowler, in partnership with Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research for preserving a broad range of plant seeds that are replica samples, or "spare" copies of the seeds, conserved in gene banks globally. But is the Doomsday Vault really flooded due to melted permafrost, as reports have been claiming? However, after the structure was contravened by the water, melting from Permafrost - caused by scorching temperature, experts now have questioned that how the structure will be capable of safeguarding the crops during harsher natural disasters and catastrophes. The efforts are to ensure that the world's final backup seed vault is kept safe and impenetrable.

"This is supposed to last for eternity", said Åsmund Asdal at the Nordic Genetic Resource Centre, which operates the seed vault.

But the facility's entrance tunnel was nevertheless breached by water from melting permafrost this week - an event that has staff watching the vault "24 hours a day,"The Guardian reported on Friday". The Global Seed Vault is home to nearly a million packets of seeds, each one from a variety of an important food crop.

According to the statement, the proposed improvements include removing heat sources (such as a transformer station) from the tunnel, as well as constructing drainage ditches on the mountainside to prevent meltwater from accumulating around the entrance.

The Svalbard Global Seed Vault
The Svalbard Global Seed Vault

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

"The Arctic and especially Svalbard warms up faster than the rest of the world", Ketil Isaksen of Norway's Meteorological Institute told Dagbladet, per the Guardian.

As you can see, this vault plays a key role even if not too many people may be familiar with it. The managers also removed electrical equipment from the tunnel that produced some heat, which could help with the defrosting, and also installed pumps in the vault itself in a case of a future flood.

"We have to find solutions", Aschim told the Guardian. It's the ultimate failsafe if the world's farms burn or diseases decimate our staples and we have to start over.

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