Plants

“Doomsday” Vault Flooded After Permafrost Melts Due To Climate Change

The augmented Svalbard Global Seed Vault, made to defend the worlds artifacts out of disaster and ecological devastation, was flooded. The culprit? Climate change.

“It is a fail-safe seed storage facility, built to endure the test of time and the challenge of man-made or natural disasters,” readsthe site from Crop Trustthatthe organization tasked with protecting international crop diversity.

However, that the “impenetrable” fortress easily transitioned to the forces of nature, as listing heat hit the area. This led to higher-than-usual melting and heavy rains, instead of snowfall.

Buried deep inside a sandstone mountain in the Arctic Svalbard archipelago, meltwater gushed to the entry and subsequently froze.Thankfully, no seeds have been lost along with the ice has since been pumped outside. However, case has raised concern in the community tasked with protecting the seed bank, and this is supposed to function as a lifeline in the event of an environmental crisis.

“It was not in our plans to think the permafrost wouldn’t be there and it might experience extreme weather such as that,” Hege Njaa Aschim, by the government that owns the vault, told The Guardian. “It was supposed to [operate] without the support of humans, but now we’re watching the seed vault 24 hours each day.”

At the end of last year in Spitsbergen, average temperatures warmed by 7C (11F) above normal. With the climate rapidly changing and the permafrost melting, vault managers must now find a means to protectthe worlds largest collection of seeds.

This includes waterproofing the tunnel into the mountain and digging trenches in order to divert the meltwater. They have also installed pumps into the seed bank in the event the pastrepeats itself. At this time, they are doing all they can to guard the vault.

“This is supposed to last for eternity,” said smund Asdal at the Nordic Genetic Resource Centre, which operates the seed vault, to The Guardian.

Svalbard Global Seed Vault, tunnel down to the vault in 2007. Dag Endresen/Wikimedia Commons

[H/T: The Guardian]

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