‘Doomsday’ seed vault flooded and a warmer planet is to blame

Brittany A. Roston - May 19, 2017, 4:58pm CDT
‘Doomsday’ seed vault flooded and a warmer planet is to blame

Far up in the frigid Arctic region is a rectangular structure embedded in snow and ice — the Global Seed Vault, a place where seeds from all over the world are stored in case disaster ever strikes our planet. The idea behind the seed vault is simple — if something takes out a particular plant, or many plants, humans can acquire seeds from the seed vault to ensure our food supply isn’t affected. The plan seemed foolproof, but that’s not the case: the Global Seed Vault recently suffered a failure that directly resulted from rising temperatures.

The Global Seed Vault, which launched back in 2008, was placed in the permafrost on Spitsbergen, a small Norwegian island, due to its consistently cold temperatures and relative isolation. Droughts, a pestilence, floods, and other issues wouldn’t affect it. There is one thing that can, though, the same problem affecting all regions of Earth: an increasingly hot planet.

Earth has been experiencing record temperatures for years now and there’s no sign of that stopping. Now, according to the Norwegian government, high temperatures in the region caused the island’s ice to start melting and heavy rain to fall in the place of snow. The resulting water flooded through the seed vault’s entrance tunnel, a problem researchers never expected the seed vault to face.

Speaking to The Guardian, Norwegian government official Hege Njaa Aschim said: “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.” The ice had to be chipped and cut out, though fortunately the water wasn’t able to affect the seeds themselves. Norway is now monitoring the seed vault at all times in anticipation of future potential problems.

It is unclear how severely the seed vault will be affected in the future if temperatures in the region continue to climb.

SOURCE: The Guardian

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