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Global Seed Vault Totally OK But Not OK

Record high temperatures and rainfall last year caused unusually large leaks in a global backup system meant to protect against climate change.

All seeds at the Svalbard Global Seed Vault in Norway are safe and sound

Recent reports of doomsday flooding at the doomsday seed vault in Norway – have been greatly exaggerated.

Well, sort of.

A barrage of breathless headlines last week declared that water had flooded into the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, a facility designed to safeguard global crop diversity.

The leak happened in October 2016, when extreme rainfall and high temperatures caused permafrost to melt and leak about 50 feet into the vault’s entry tunnel.

The water then re-froze.

But as officials at the facility told Popular Science, the seed bank itself was never under threat, and there was simply “no flooding, but more water than we like.”

The entry tunnel has been leaky in previous years, and groups operating the facility are working on better waterproofing.

The inner facility itself has additional safeguards to keep water from threatening the seeds, including pumps and a downward slope in the entryway.

Read More:

  • Don’t Panic, Humanity’s ‘Doomsday’ Seed Vault Is Probably Still Safe (Washington Post)
  • Turns Out The Svalbard Seed Vault Is Probably Fine (Popular Science)
Chad Bouchard

Chad Bouchard is a veteran reporter and WFIU alum who has covered wild and wooly beats from Indonesia to Capitol Hill. His radio work has aired on NPR, PRI and Voice of America, and his writing has appeared in The Sunday Telegraph and Scientific American’s health magazine, Lives. He has also spent a lifetime gardening, foraging and eating weird stuff.

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