What You Need To Know: “Doomsday” Seed Vault

‘Doomsday’ tunnel entrance in Arctic flooded by melting permafrost

The entrance tunnel to the world’s largest seed storage facility built into the permafrost in a mountain in a remote area of the Arctic Circle in Norway has been flooded by melting permafrost. 

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The storage facility, which opened in 2008, was supposed to be an impregnable rock vault protecting the world’s food supply in the event of a global catastrophe, either man-made or natural, but The Guardian reports permafrost meltwater inundated the entrance to the tunnel leading to the seed vault after extremely warm winter temperatures in the Arctic.

People walk into the doomsday seed vault, aimed at providing a type of Noah's Ark of food storage in the event of a global catastrophe, through an entrance tunnel. Permafrost meltwater breached the tunnel leading to the vault after extremely warm winter temperatures. The doomsday vault is  filled with samples of the world's most important seeds.
Photo: AFP/AFP/Getty Images

The Norwegian government owns the vault, and a government official admitted builders did not foresee the impact of climate change.

“It was not in our plans to think that the permafrost would not be there and that it would experience extreme weather like that,” Hege Njaa Aschim told The Guardian.

Luckily no seeds were lost. The water that breached the entrance to the tunnel froze and Hege said the ice has been removed.

Officials are now trying to figure out new solutions to make the vault self-sufficient, something that’s necessary for it to serve its purpose. 

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