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Global Seed Vault threatened by floods caused by climate change

Entrance to the Global Seed Vault (Miksu)Entrance to the Global Seed Vault (Miksu)The Global Seed Vault, a secure bank of the world’s seeds located on a remote Arctic island, has flooded after the surrounding permafrost melted. Unusually high temperatures in the Arctic region over the winter led to melting and heavy rain, causing water to gush into the entrance tunnel. Luckily, the water froze before reaching the vault itself. No seeds were lost, but scientists are now concerned that the underground vault, tunnelled into a mountainside, may not be able to provide the failsafe protection against disaster that it was designed to do. The Svalbard vault was built to protect the precious seeds of millions of food crops from climate change, wars and natural disasters to ensure humanity’s food supply forever. But it is now under threat from global warming itself.

Storage boxes (NordGen/Dag Terje Filip Endresen)Storage boxes (NordGen/Dag Terje Filip Endresen)The Global Seed Vault is housed inside an abandoned coalmine on Spitzbergen, an island in the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard in the Arctic Ocean. It contains almost a million packets of dried and frozen seeds (more than 20 million individual seeds) from some 5000 crop species. Stored at a temperature of -18°C (-0.4°F), the seeds can be preserved for hundreds of years.

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