The “Doomsday Seed Vault”
Deep inside a mountain on a remote island in the Svalbard archipelago, halfway between mainland Norway and the North Pole, lies the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. It is a fail-safe, state-of-the-art seed storage facility, built to stand the test of time – and of natural or manmade disasters.
Permanent protection for the world’s food crops
The purpose of the Vault is to store duplicates (‘back ups’) of all seed samples from the world’s crop collections. Permafrost and thick rock ensure that, even in the case of a power outage, the seed samples will remain frozen. The Vault can therefore be considered the ultimate insurance policy for the world’s food supply. It will secure, for centuries, millions of seeds representing every important crop variety available in the world today.
The entrance to the “fail-safe” seed vault will “gleam like a gem in the midnight sun,” signaling a priceless treasure within: seed samples of nearly every food crop of every country. The vault is designed to protect the agricultural heritage of humankind — the seeds essential to agriculture of every nation.
The purpose of the “Agricultural Noah’s Ark” is to conserve the seeds that will allow agriculture to adapt to challenges such as climate change and crop disease. The Arctic seed vault is part of a comprehensive global strategy being implemented by the Global Crop Diversity Trust to protect collections of crop genetic diversity around the world.
The site was chosen, in part, because the ground is perpetually frozen, providing natural back-up refrigeration that would preserve the seeds should electricity fail. Yet, even here, project architects had to consider how to offset the potential impacts of climate changes.
Secondly, scientists determined the impact of rising air temperatures on the permafrost, which is normally between -4°C and -6°C (24.8°F and 21.2°F). They found that the permafrost would warm much more slowly than the air. In addition, the deeper into the mountain, the colder it will remain. Therefore, the vault will be located an extraordinary 120 metres into the rock, ensuring that rising external air temperatures will have no influence on the surrounding permafrost.
To accomplish this, the 120-metre entry tunnel will penetrate through the permafrost, opening to two large chambers capable of holding three million seed samples. The tunnel and vaults will be excavated by means of well-known boring and blasting techniques, with the rock walls sprayed with concrete.
Footage from the inside of the vault:
More images on the construction work:
- Website of the CropTrust http://www.croptrust.org
- Images & Video: http://www.croptrust.org/content/resources
- Wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Svalbard_Global_Seed_Vault