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SOURCE: LiveScience and The Guardian

DATE: May 22, 2017


From The Guardian:

It was designed as an impregnable deep-freeze to protect the world’s most precious seeds from any global disaster and ensure humanity’s food supply forever. But the Global Seed Vault, buried in a mountain deep inside the Arctic circle, has been breached after global warming produced extraordinary temperatures over the winter, sending meltwater gushing into the entrance tunnel.

The vault is on the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen and contains almost a million packets of seeds, each a variety of an important food crop. When it was opened in 2008, the deep permafrost through which the vault was sunk was expected to provide “failsafe” protection against “the challenge of natural or man-made disasters”.

But soaring temperatures in the Arctic at the end of the world’s hottest ever recorded year led to melting and heavy rain, when light snow should have been falling. “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 Hege Njaa Aschim, from the Norwegian government, which owns the vault.

From LiveScience:

The seeds are safe — for now. But a famous “doomsday” seed vault is scrambling to renovate after melting permafrost penetrated its access tunnel.

The organization Crop Trust, which partially funds and supports the vault, calls this permafrost a “fail-safe” storage facility on its web page.

But climate change is causing this fail-safe facility to fail.