Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Climate Change & the Doomsday seed vault

It boggles the mind and attacks the part of the brain that recognizes irony.

The Doomsday seed vault, located in the Arctic Circle in Norway, has been impacted by Climate Change. The melting of the permafrost flooded the tunnel entrance. Thankfully no seeds were lost and currently researchers are looking into making the vault more secure & self-sufficient.

The Doomsday seed vault was started in 2008 & holds more than 20 million seeds. Originally seeds were held at the Nordic Gene Bank (since 1984) in an abandoned coal mine at Svalbad. Also saving seeds were the Southern Africa Development Community but both the Nordic and African collections were transferred to the Svalbard Global Seed Vault Facility on January first 2008 when the Nordic Gene Bank and NordGen were integrated. The Doomsday vault contains samples from approximately one-third of the world's most important food crop varieties.

Its physical design is 390 feet into a sandstone mountain on Spitzbergen Island. The site has robust security systems and the seeds are packed in three layers of foil packets that are heat sealed to exclude moisture.

The facility is managed by the Nordic Genetic Resource Center, and there is no permanent staff on-site.

The reason for selecting this site: Spitsbergen, was because it lacked tectonic activity and had permafrost, which would aid in its preservation. It was thought that the 430 ft above sea level will keep the site dry even if the ice caps melt. Locally mined coal gives the power for the refrigeration units that cool the seeds to the internationally recommended standard of −18 ° but if the equipment fails, at least several weeks will elapse before the facility rises to the surrounding sandstone bedrock's temperature of −3 °C

It is expected that some of the seeds will last for 100s of years but that some grains could last even longer, like a thousand years.

Just some thoughts. First this seed bank assumes several things; that whatever Doomsday scenario affected us, we can get to the Arctic circle, also that there is still Sun/an Ozone layer, and the Earth was not completely flooded. Still, I’ve updated my go bag for emergencies to include directions…just in case!


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