On a remote island, 800 miles from the North Pole, an enormous concrete vault safeguards humanities chance to rebuild agriculture after a disaster.

 

Vault Protection

The Doomsday Seed Vault was designed with many safeguards to keep its contents safe from a catastrophe.

The vault is located on the geologically stable island of Spitsbergen. This site was chosen because it is remote; however, the town of Svalbard is the farthest north you can go on a scheduled flight making it relatively accessible.

The seed vault is also 430 feet above sea level, ensuring the contents remains bone-dry even if the polar ice caps melt. The vault is buried 426 feet down into the permafrost, safeguarding against power-failure. If the power fails the permafrost will keep the vault at 26.6°F, sufficiently cool to store the vital seeds.

The doomsday vault is constructed with thick concrete walls and often patrolled by armed guards.  

Seed Storage

The Doomsday Vault has the ability to store 4.5 million different seed varieties, each sample containing 500 seeds for a total 2.5 billion seeds safeguarded.  The vault currently has 860,000 samples from all over the world, including North Korea. The samples include varieties of corn, rice, wheat, cowpea, sorghum, eggplant, lettuce, barley and potato.  The doomsday vault houses the most diverse collection of agriculture seeds in the world.

The seeds are sealed in custom made packages designed to keep the seeds viable for thousands of years.  They are then in boxes, put on shelves and kept at a crisp -0.4°F.

Since the vault’s construction in 2008, seeds have been withdrawn once.  Scientists, fleeing the conflict raging in Syria, requested their seeds to continue important research.

 

Foresight

With climate change becoming a big concern and war ravaging areas of the world, the Svalbard Global Seed Vault is a great example of human ingenuity and foresight.

Source: CropTrust

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