Saturday, September 11, 2010

Discovering the Doomsday Vault

Have you ever heard of the Doomsday Vault? I haven't until recently. It's actually called the Svalbard Global Seed Vault  and it's been open since February 26, 2008. It's purpose? "To serve as the ultimate safety net for one of the world's most important natural resources."

From the site:
The Seed Vault is an answer to a call from the international community to provide the best possible assurance of safety for the world’s crop diversity, and in fact the idea for such a facility dates back to the 1980s. However, it was only with the coming into force of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, and with it an agreed international legal framework for conserving and accessing crop diversity, that the Vault became a practical possibility.

The Vault is dug into a mountainside near the village of Longyearbyen, Svalbard. Svalbard is a group of islands nearly a thousand kilometres north of mainland Norway. Remote by any standards, Svalbard’s airport is in fact the northernmost point in the world to be serviced by scheduled flights – usually one lands a day. For nearly four months a year the islands are enveloped in total darkness. Permafrost and thick rock ensure that, even without electricity, the samples remain frozen.

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