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ECOLOGY: Doomsday vault marks decade of protection infographic
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Ten years of The Svalbard Global Seed Vault

Graphic News

February 28, 2018 -- Norway is celebrating the tenth anniversary of The Svalbard Global Seed Vault, but scientists are keeping a close eye on the facility after a recent thaw threatenedmore than a million crop species stored inside.

In 2016 a thaw melted the permafrost intended to keep the so-called Doomsday Seeds safe, sending water into the access tunnel. As a result Norwegian government is boosting the flood defenses in the tunnel, and Statsbygg, the agency that administers the vault, plans to monitor the permafrost.

Scientists at the facility describe the vault as the most important room in the world.

Government spokeswoman Hege Njaa Aschim told the BBC that the reason the vault was built on Svalbard was because the permafrost was thought to be permanent. She said the problems emerged last October when the temperatures, instead of being -10C or colder, were hovering around 0C. "It was like a wet summer in Norway," she told the BBC.

Although most countries keep their own supplies of key varieties, the Global Seed Vault acts as a back-up. It stores seeds from 5,000 crop species from around the world. They are dried and frozen. Before the melting scare, it was believed that they would be preserved for hundreds of years. If a nation's seeds are lost as a result of a natural disaster or a man-made catastrophe, the specimens stored in the Arctic could be used to regenerate them. (Story: GN Newsahead)

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