'Doomsday' seed bank getting upgrade because of threat of thaw - KWES NewsWest 9 / Midland, Odessa, Big Spring, TX: newswest9.com |

'Doomsday' seed bank getting upgrade because of threat of thaw

The Svalbard Global Seed Vault was finished in 2008. (Source: CNN) The Svalbard Global Seed Vault was finished in 2008. (Source: CNN)

(CNN/RNN) – The “doomsday” seed bank was established 10 years ago tucked into an icy mountain on Norway’s Svalbard for safekeeping into the distant future.

Now the threat of warming at the icy archipelago, about 650 miles from the North Pole in the Arctic Circle, is so real that the Norwegian government is planning a $13 million upgrade to protect the vault from thaw.

The Svalbard Global Seed Vault protects the seeds of about a million crop varieties.

It was conceived of as a depository for the world’s seed variants if the world ever needed re-planting after an apocalyptic event.

The building, a largely underground structure with an angular concrete entrance jutting out of the ice, was built for $9 million in 2008 and designed to last about 1,000 years, but in 2016 a surprise thaw in the permafrost led to leaks.

The seeds were fine, but “more water than we like” accumulated at the entrance and in an access tunnel, a Norwegian government official told Popular Science last year. Those will be the focus of the new upgrades.

The vault can store 4.5 million seed samples. More than 76,000 new samples arrived this week, bringing them past one million for the first time.

According to the organization that runs the vault’s website, “The collection and storage of seeds will continue for some time.”

Copyright 2018 CNN/Raycom News Network. All rights reserved.

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