Global Seed Vault reaches 1 MILLION mark

120 metres deep in the Arctic permafrost, just outside Longyearbyen, Svalbard, lies the Global Seed Vault. Also known as the “Doomsday Bank”, the Vault safeguards crop seeds and plants from nations around the world. These deposits may be the world’s food sources for future generations in case of global disaster, be it nuclear war to climate change.

To celebrate its tenth anniversary in February, the Vault accepted over 77,000 new samples – taking it over the 1 million deposits mark!

The Global Seed Vault (Image: M. Struik).

The location, at the outskirts of Svalbard’s only city, Longyearbyen, was chosen for its remoteness, stability and temperature. There are no volcanoes or earthquakes, and the constant temperature of the permafrost keeps the seeds in a permanent deep-freeze.

But today, this “Bank of Last Resort” is facing its own climate pressures. In 2016, an unexpected thaw of usually-stable permafrost flooded the tunnels – another clear sign of global warming. While Norway is taking further steps to secure the Vault, climate change remains an alarming threat.

Scientists have warned that the Arctic Ocean could be ice-free much sooner than previous predictions, which forecast sea ice would first disappear completely during summer months between 2040 and 2050. Understanding the impact of human activity on our climate is a key mission of the PolarQuest campaign.

Polarquest member Paola Catapano visited the Vault in 2015, when it had only a fraction of the samples it has today. The video above shows highlights from her trip.

PolarQuest in GlobalGiving