The Svalbard Global Seed Vault, also called The Doomsday Seed Vault, is a seed bank which is located in Norway. It is in within the Arctic Circle in close proximity to The North Pole, and contains duplicates of a wide variety of plant seeds that are held in other gene banks worldwide. The main purpose of its creation was to preserve these seeds, so that they will be available in the event of a global crisis. The seed bank is 120m inside a sandstone mountain on Spitsbergen Island, and the seeds within it are packed in special three-ply foil packets. These are then heat sealed to ensure that no moisture can get in. The vault contains approximately 1.5 million species of agricultural crops, which it is expected to keep unharmed for hundreds (or thousands) of years.
The site for the seed bank was chosen for a number of reasons, including the fact there the area has a minimal amount of tectonic activity. It is also surrounded by permafrost, which will aid in the preservation of the seeds. Another major factor was its height, 130m above sea level, which would allow the vault to remain dry in the event of the surrounding ice caps melting. This was not expected to take place for at least several decades, however. Unfortunately, with global warming accelerating at an alarming rate, the vault’s capabilities have already been put to the test.
The melting of the area’s permafrost, has recently caused a flood which resulted in water entering the Doomsday Seed Vault. Fortunately, the seeds remained out of the reach of the water, proving that the permafrost melting would not pose a problem in the future. One of the structure’s chief creators, Cary Fowler, has also put concerns to rest about the vault being able to withstand other threats of flooding. If the surrounding water levels rise drastically, or a pumping system failure occurs, and water enters the vault, it will encounter temperatures of -18 degrees Celsius. This would cause the water to refreeze, and create additional protection for the seeds.
The area surrounding the vault is currently one of the most susceptible to the dangers of global warming, as the temperatures in the Arctic rise quicker than the rest of the world. These dangers are increasing at an alarming rate, with 2016 being the hottest year to date and 2017 expected to surpass it. Even though the vault’s structure has proven to be safe for the seeds’ preservation, Norway is making improvements to the surrounding area to ensure that any water surrounding it will drain away properly. They have emphasized that these seeds are being preserved to benefit the entire world, and need to be protected at all costs. The country has also emphasized the need for worldwide changes to minimize the drastic acceleration of global warming.