Global warming has led to a buried Arctic seed freezer being breached

Global warming has led to a buried Arctic seed freezer being breached

Global warming has led to a buried Arctic seed freezer being breached

Flooding caused by climate change has hit the Global Seed Vault, which holds samples of the world's seeds in the event of an apocalyptic catastrophe.

The Svalbard Global Seed Vault sits deep in the interior of a mountain, located on a remote island in the Svalbard archipelago - central between mainland Norway and about 1,300 kilometres away from the North Pole.

While Fowler wasn't present during Friday's water intrusion event, he spoke from experience as he told PopSci about the Doomsday Vault's layout, and how it is purposefully created to protect the almost one million seed samples kept within it. When the vault was designed, the thick layer of permafrost and rock were meant to ensure that the seed samples would be protected from both man-made and natural disasters.

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.

Hege Njaa Aschim, a Norwegian government spokesman, told the BBC that the reason the vault was built on Svalbard was because the permafrost was thought to be permanent.

Global Warming isn't about to vanish any time soon, so the question is how is the seed vault is going to cope with rising temperatures in coming years.

Aschim noted that the vault was originally supposed to operate without the help of humans, but now they are watching the seed vault every hour of the day. But climate change reaction has been so strong that parts of the facility near its entrance have been flooded by melting permafrost.

"The tunnel was never meant to be watertight at the front, because we didn't think we would need that", Fowler told Popular Science.

In February, Spitsbergen recorded winter temperatures as high as 6.8C. More than a million packets of seeds are stored at the vault.

The Arctic experienced a preposterously warm winter last season, and the permafrost, which has been thawing in recent years, suddenly began melting at an alarming rate. Seed stores could be at risk if such an event occurs again.

The agriculturalist explained that for any water to get near the seeds it would have to get past two independent pump systems, go uphill through three doors and then survive 0.4°F (-18°C) temperatures. If anything dramatic should happen elsewhere around the world, we want these seeds to be there.

Meltwater from the permafrost has apparently gushed into the tunnel entrance of the vault.

The vault scientists say preserving the world's seeds is key to ensuring crop diversity and food security in the face of climatic and political instability.

As the permafrost continues to melt it gives a Swiss cheese-like appearance to the landscape in the Arctic.

They're now digging drainage ditches, removing heat sources near the tunnel's entrance, and installing a new waterproof wall to help stop further leakages.

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