The purpose of Svalbard Seed Vault, which is the global vault for seeds placed in the Arctic, is to serve to protect all seeds in case of an apocalyptic scenario in which the entire global stock of food gets destroyed.
It is located in a mountain, and it is constructed to withstand natural and human-made catastrophes. It is built to endure the test of time and to save humanity if needed.
But recently, it leaked.
Like most of the Arctic, the mountain in which the vault is located is made out of permanent ice. Thick frozen layers have covered the surface since the last Ice Age. Theoretically, when the ice is melting during summer in the Arctic, the permafrost is always impervious. Well, at least until now.
Global warming has managed to change this as well. The permafrost is now melting, causing the reduction of land and the rising of lakes because of the melted ice.
The problem is that when the vault was built in 2008, this wasn’t predicted. At that time scientists were still researching the global warming impact on permafrost.
“It was not in our plans to think that the permafrost would not be there and that it would experience extreme weather like that,” said Hege Aschim, the spokesperson of the Norwegian agency managing the vault.
According to The Guardian, after the uncommonly warm winter, water flooded the entry tunnel of the vault. Luckily, the water froze before reaching the rooms where they kept the seeds. To maintain their vitality, the seeds are stored at minus 65 degrees Fahrenheit.
The winter in the Arctic has been absurdly warm, causing the permanent ice to start melting at an alarming rate. The region where the vault is located had unusual, extensive rains at a time when it was supposed to snow.
The new situation has brought doubt as to the durability of the vault, and the scientific belief that it will serve its purpose.
“It was supposed to function without the help of humans, but now we are watching the seed vault 24 hours a day. We must see what we can do to minimize all the risks and make sure the seed bank can take care of itself,” said Aschim.
The difference between Svalbard and other seed vaults around the world is that the others keep important regional seeds, but the Svalbard is created as a global seeds nursery. Visioned to contain millions of different foods, located in a structure far away from threats like war, fire, and electricity problems, and resistant to earthquake and nuclear explosions.
Watch the video below to see what the Svalbard Seeds Vault looks inside, and to learn more about it.
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