Upgraded ‘Doomsday Vault’

The Svalbard Global Seed Vault was upgraded recently after flooding of its entrance tunnel in 2017. The newly water-proofed vault currently houses over a million seeds.

Svalbard Global Seed Vault

Svaldbard Global Seed Vault was opened in 2008 to act as a failsafe storage for the seeds of the world’s plants. It houses samples of over 1 million crop varieties from 5,000 species. This represents a significant 2/5th of the world’s varieties (2.4 million varieties). This is important because preserving crop diversity is essential for food production and food security. Eg: 93% of the fruit and vegetable crops in USA have already disappeared.

Location

The seed bank is located in the Arctic region, between the North Pole and Norway. It is located on the Island of Spitsbergen in the archipelago Svalbard. It is an underground facility built into solid rock. Its location and cold climate helps preserve the seeds and samples even in case of a power outage.

Recent Upgradation

In 2017, the entrance tunnel of the Svalbard Seed Vault flooded due to rainfall and melting permafrost. Though the water did not reach the seed storage region, it highlighted the dangers posed by climate change to the seed bank. The Norwegian government undertook a 20 million euro refurbishment project to make the structure more watertight. Also the cooling equipment were moved to a service building to let the heat generated from it to the outside.

Recent Deposits

A major seed deposit was made to the seed bank in February. 36 different institutions made a contribution of 60,000 seed samples to the bank. India was one of the countries to send seed samples. Israel deposited the seeds of Wild Emmer Wheat which is known as ‘mother of wheat’.

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