DOOMSDAY SEED VAULT TO GET AN UPGRADE – Permafrost Melt Forces Upgrade
Norway – Designed to withstand a nuclear missile hit, the world’s biggest seed vault, nestled deep inside an Arctic mountain, is undergoing a makeover as rising temperatures melt the permafrost meant to protect it.
Nothing betrays the presence of the storage site so vital to humanity, apart from its monumental entrance
Dubbed the “Noah’s Ark” of food crops, the Global Seed Vault is buried inside a former coal mine on Svalbard, a remote Arctic island in a Norwegian archipelago around 1,000 kilometres (650 miles) from the North Pole.
Opened in 2008, the seed bank plays a key role in preserving the world’s genetic diversity: it is home to more than a million varieties of seeds, offering a safety net in case of natural climate change, disease or manmade.
But warmer temperatures have disrupted the environment around the vault. In an unexpected development, the permafrost, which was meant to help keep the temperature inside the vault at a constant -18 Celsius (-0.4 Fahrenheit), melted in 2016.
The Arctic is warming twice as fast as the rest of the planet, scientific studies show. And while Europe is at the moment experiencing a subzero cold spell, the North Pole recently registered above-zero temperatures, 30 degrees higher than normal.
Scientists say warm spells like this are occurring with increasing frequency in the Arctic.
Norway recently announced it would contribute 100 million kroner (10 million euros, .5 million) to improve the repository in a bid to protect the precious seeds.
Renovations to shore up the fortress are already under way. The improvements will enable it to “handle the climate for the next decades”, said Dale.
The access tunnel will be reinforced, and a cabin will be built near the site to house the technical materials that can generate heat — to prevent a recurrence of melting permafrost.
At the foot of the mountain, the fjord’s swirling waters are a worrying indication of the state of the climate, according to Marie Haga of the Global Crop Diversity Trust, one of the seed vault’s three partners alongside Nordic gene bank NordGen and the Norwegian. Seed Seeds Vault Food “Food Storage” norway ice “deep freeze” upgrade permafrost leak “water leak” water crops hunger 2018 frozen nature natural construction deposit “vault deposit” backup plants europe world global humanity Norwegian” “seed bank” bank growth grow research future These samples include wheat, barley, durum wheat and bread wheat, lentils, chickpeas, fava beans and wild relatives of these species…So this is a big achievement In October 2016, the seed vault experienced an unusually large degree of water intrusion due to higher than average temperatures and heavy rainfall. While it is common for some water to seep into the vault’s 100-metre (328 ft) entrance tunnel during the warmer spring months, in this case the water encroached 15 metres (49 ft) into the tunnel before freezing. The vault was designed for water intrusion and as such the seeds were not at risk. As a result, however, Norwegian public works agency Statsbygg plans to make improvements to the tunnel to prevent any such intrusion in the future, including waterproofing the tunnel walls, removing heat sources from the tunnel, and digging exterior drainage ditches.