The doomsday seed vault compromised?
- Author: Regina Walsh May 25, 2017,
May 25, 2017, 1:16
Those managing the vault hope to keep temperatures as low as possible to avoid a catastrophic flood.
According to the latest reports, the rising global temperatures caused the deep permafrost - which was actually seen as a protective shield - to melt, thereby flooding the vault. That wasn't something its planners had planned on, even though the threat of an unplanned catastrophe is the vault's reason for being.
Mr Fischer knows the vault well, having visited it in the past, seeing the deposit of Australian seeds to the collection. European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and Nobel Peace Prize winning environmentalist Wangari Matai will be among the personalities present at the inauguration of the vault, which has been carved into the permafrost of a remote Arctic mountain, just some 1,000 kilometres (620 miles) from the North Pole. It was fortunate that the melt water only reached the entrance to the tunnel that leads to the vault, and didn't get into the vault itself.
The Norwegian government opened the seed vault in 2008 as a "backstop" against "the challenge of natural or man-made disasters". It was meant to withstand global catastrophe - but, unusually warm winter temperatures this year sent unexpected amounts of meltwater pouring into the entrance tunnel, a report on Guardian stated.
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The Prime Minister's official photographer Adam Scotti later posted an account of the incident on Instagram . And, predictably, many people on Twitter are loving the unexpected appearance from the Prime Minister.
A statement from the Crop Trust said the seeds in the vault had never been threatened and would remain safe, with additional planned measures underway to provide additional security, based on the "better safe than sorry" approach. Though he wasn't present at the vault when the "flooding" occurred this year, he insists that it's a pretty routine occurrence. The seed vault contains almost one million packets of seeds, all carefully labeled. But the breach has raised questions about the the vault's ability to survive disasters.
Workers used pumps to remove the standing water and will waterproof walls and build drainage ditches to deal with runoff from melting permafrost. The freezer room itself was safe, but the ice in the tunnel had to be chipped out.
More importantly, when the vault was designed, Fowler says scientists calculated what would happen if all the world's ice melted, and there was a tsunami, and estimated the vault would be five to seven stories above that point. She said they need to find solutions, as it is a big responsibility and they take it very seriously. "We are doing this for the world", Åsmund Asdal at the Nordic Genetic Resource Centre, which operates the seed vault, told The Guardian.