Arctic ‘Doomsday’ Global Seed Vault Is About To Get A $13 Million Upgrade

The 'Doomsday' Seed Vault's upgrade could continue its aim to preserve humanity's food supplies.

Arctic 'Doomsday' Global Seed Vault will have an upgrade of about $13 million.
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The 'Doomsday' Seed Vault's upgrade could continue its aim to preserve humanity's food supplies.

The Svalbard Global Seed Vault, referred to as “Doomsday” Seed Vault, is about to get an overhaul amounting to 100 million Norwegian crowns or $13 million USD. The Norwegian government stated on Friday that it plans to upgrade the seed vault to protect the world’s food supplies.

The Doomsday Seed Vault, located on Arctic island and established in 2008, contains about 900,000 seed samples. It acts as a massive cold storage unit to back up the world’s genebank if struck by disasters, ranging from nuclear war, to global warming, according to Reuters.

The seed vault has a temperature of -18 degrees Celcius or -3 degrees Fahrenheit. It backs up about 1,750 seed banks all around the world. The Norwegian government, the Crop Trust, and the Nordic Genetic Resource Center (NordGen) manage the global seed vault.

The Norwegian government said that the upgrade project includes the construction of a new, concrete access tunnel. It will also renovate the device building that houses the emergency power and refrigerating units, as well as the electrical equipment that discharges heat through the tunnel.

Jon Georg Dale, Norwegian agriculture and food minister, said that it had been a decade since the vault was constructed, so it’s due for some upgrades. He further noted that these would allow the seed vault to continue preserving humanity’s food supplies.

Dale added that it would ensure that the Svalbard Global Seed Vault could continue to deliver the world’s gene banks a secure storage space in the future. This goal is a significant task to protect the genetic material that is essential to global food security, as noted by Futurism.

The Svalbard Global Seed Vault (SGSV) is useful in time of crisis. In 2015, the SGSV transferred about 116,000 seed samples in a seed bank in Aleppo, which had been damaged by the Syrian civil war. After two years, the seeds developed and new samples were returned for storage at the SGSV. Dale said that this shows that the global seed vault is universal insurance for food supplies for the coming generations.

SGSV has also been damaged in 2016 by a permafrost thaw that triggered flooding at the entrance of the vault’s tunnel. It cost $9 million to build the facility. The newly planned renovation could refurbish more of the vault’s damaged entrance tunnel.