Science & Technology
Doomsday vault flooded by melting permafrost
By T.K. Randall
May 20, 2017 · 25 comments
Temperatures outside have risen far quicker than anticipated. Image Credit: NordGen / Johan Backman
Norway's Svalbard Global Seed Vault has been breached by water flooding in through the entrance.
The vault, which was built in 2008 around 810 miles from the North Pole, was designed to serve as an underground depository where food crop seeds could be preserved in case of a global disaster.
Ironically however, the vault itself has ended up being compromised by the effects of global warming thanks to soaring temperatures which have caused the permafrost outside to melt.
"It was not in our plans to think that the permafrost would not be there and that it would experience extreme weather like that," said government spokeswoman Hege Njaa Aschim. "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."
Fortunately the water did not reach the seeds, but the fact that this happened at all is worrying, especially given that the vault was designed to withstand rising temperatures.
"It was supposed to [operate] without the help of humans, but now we are watching the seed vault 24 hours a day," said Aschim.
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