“Doomsday Vault” Said to Be In Danger After Permafrost Melt, Tunnel Flood and Refreeze

 

If everything goes wrong — if because of disaster, climate change, or nuclear war, life as we know it comes to an end, with parts of the earth rendered inhospitable with widespread environmental devastation — the Svalbard Global Seed Vault is a resource that could come to our rescue.

Hidden about 400 feet inside a mountain on a remote island between mainland Norway and the North Pole, the vault stores valuable seeds from crops all over the world. It’s supposed to be protected and stay at a safe temperature to store all those seeds.

But extreme temperatures in the Arctic this winter — combined with heavy rain instead of snow — led to melting permafrost that gushed into the tunnel leading into the vault, according to a report in The Guardian, raising questions about whether the doomsday vault will survive a warming planet.

“It was not in our plans to think that the permafrost would not be there and that it would experience extreme weather like that,” Hege Njaa Aschim, an official in the Norweigan government, which controls the vault, told The Guardian. “A lot of water went into the start of the tunnel and then it froze to ice, so it was like a glacier when you went in.”

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