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The Doomsday Vault February 26, 2008

Posted by davegoblog in Environment, Future, Science, Technology.


The Doomsday Vault sounds like something out of an Indiana Jones movie or a Harry Potter novel, but it isn’t.  That’s merely the nickname the media has given to the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, which opened today in Longyearbyen, Norway.  Think of it a backup to the 1400 other seed banks scattered throughout the world.  Those seed banks are subject to natural and manmade disasters, whereas the Doomsday vault was built to survive an earthquake or a nuclear strike.  War has destroyed seed banks in Afghanistan and Iraq, and a 2006 typhoon caused another seed bank to be flooded in the Philippines.

The vault has the capacity to store 4.5 million seed samples, which is equivalent to about 2 billion individual seeds.  The giant air-conditioning units keep the temperature at -18 ºC or about 0 ºF, which experts believe is cold enough for many seeds to last 1000 years.  Even if the power systems failed, the permafrost surrounding the vault would help keep the seeds at a temperature to last 200 years in the worst case scenario.  Let’s hope the Global Crop Diversity Trust only has to worry about the polar bears there.



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