The ‘Doomsday Vault’ is in huge trouble

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Humanity’s future is threatened by a major development on a remote Norwegian island that is home to a ‘doomsday vault.’

A vault on the remote Norwegian island of Spitsbergen is meant to save humanity from extinction if the worst comes to worst, but now it appears even the vault is under a major threat. Global warming is causing melting permafost on Spitsbergen, the home of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, which in turn is raising questions on whether seed vault can survive in the future.

The vault is built in an abandoned Arctic coal mine, and contains about a million packets of seeds from around the world. Some seeds were withdrawn in 2015 due to the civil war in Syria to help people there.

The vault was built under permafrost in order to make it a fail-safe seed storage facility that could withstand the test of time, but it appears global warming may be threatening that status. The unusually warm termperatures have caused rain that has led to meltin permafrost, although fortunately the vault hasn’t flooded yet, getting only to the entrance to the tunnel before freezing. But its future is in jeopardy.

Lead author James Bradley, from the School of Geographical Sciences and Cabot Institute at the University of Bristol (and now based at the University of Southern California), said: “It is challenging to predict the effects of future climate change with field and laboratory experiments alone.

“It takes decades to feasibly monitor long term ecological change. Recently designed modelling software allows us to manipulate and simulate experimental conditions over century timescales to enable long-term predictions of the effects of climate change on ecosystems.”

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