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Doomsday Vault design unveiled! by ryan.hess
Started on: 02-09-2007 03:56 PM
Replies: 9
Last post by: edhering on 02-10-2007 03:28 AM
ryan.hess
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Report this Post02-09-2007 03:56 PM Click Here to See the Profile for ryan.hessClick Here to Email ryan.hessSend a Private Message to ryan.hessDirect Link to This Post
I'm glad somebody's thinking of the plants!





The final design for a "doomsday" vault that will house seeds from all known varieties of food crops has been unveiled by the Norwegian government.

The Svalbard International Seed Vault will be built into a mountainside on a remote island near the North Pole.

The vault aims to safeguard the world's agriculture from future catastrophes, such as nuclear war, asteroid strikes and climate change.

Construction begins in March, and the seed bank is scheduled to open in 2008.

The Norwegian government is paying the $5m (2.5m) construction costs of the vault, which will have enough space to house three million seed samples.

See inside the Svalbard International Seed Vault

The collection and maintenance of the collection is being organised by the Global Crop Diversity Trust, which has responsibility of ensuring the "conservation of crop diversity in perpetuity".

"We want a safety net because we do not want to take too many chances with crop biodiversity," said Cary Fowler, the Trust's executive director.

"Can you imagine an effective, efficient, sustainable response to climate change, water shortages, food security issues without what is going to go in the vault - it is the raw material of agriculture."

Future proof

The seed vault will be built 120m (364ft) inside a mountain on Spitsbergen, one of four islands that make up Svalbard.

Map showing location of Svalbard (Image: BBC)

Dr Fowler said Svalbard, 1,000km (621 miles) north of mainland Norway, was chosen as the location for the vault because it was very remote and it also offered the level of stability required for the long-term project.

"We looked very far into the future. We looked at radiation levels inside the mountain, and we looked at the area's geological structure," he told BBC News.

"We also modelled climate change in a drastic form 200 years into future, which included the melting of ice sheets at the North and South Poles, and Greenland, to make sure that this site was above the resulting water level."

By building the vault deep inside the mountain, the surrounding permafrost would continue to provide natural refrigeration if the mechanical system failed, explained Dr Fowler.

'Living Fort Knox'

The Arctic vault will act as a back-up store for a global network of seed banks financially supported by the trust.

Dr Fowler said that a proportion of the seeds housed at these banks would be deposited at Svalbard, which will act as a "living Fort Knox".

Although the vault was designed to protect the specimens from catastrophic events, he added that it could also be used to replenish national seed banks.

"One example happened in September when a typhoon ripped through the Philippines and destroyed its seed bank," Dr Fowler recalled.

"The storm brought two feet of water and mud into the bank, and that is the last thing you want in a seed bank."

Low maintenance

Once inside the vault, the samples will be stored at -18C (0F). The length of time that seeds kept in a frozen state maintain their ability to germinate depends on the species.

Freshwater ice (Image: P.Vermeij/Crop Diversity Trust)
The Arctic conditions will help keep the seeds in a frozen state
Some crops, such as peas, may only survive for 20-30 years. Others, such as sunflowers and grain crops, are understood to last for many decades or even hundreds of years.

Once the collection has been established at Svalbard, Dr Fowler said the facility would operate with very little human intervention.

"Somebody will go up there once every year to physically check inside to see that everything is OK, but there will be no full-time staff," he explained.

"If you design a facility to be used in worst-case scenarios, then you cannot actually have too much dependency on human beings."
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8Ball
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Report this Post02-09-2007 09:39 PM Click Here to See the Profile for 8BallClick Here to Email 8BallSend a Private Message to 8BallDirect Link to This Post
It is a great idea. But I have to wonder something. It seems as if they are building it in the Arctic, so the Arctic will keep it cold? They are assuming the Arctic will remain cold!
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Phranc
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Report this Post02-09-2007 09:43 PM Click Here to See the Profile for PhrancClick Here to Email PhrancSend a Private Message to PhrancDirect Link to This Post
Absolutely useless if they don't put marijuana seeds in there.
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FIERO1985
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Report this Post02-09-2007 09:44 PM Click Here to See the Profile for FIERO1985Click Here to Email FIERO1985Send a Private Message to FIERO1985Direct Link to This Post
Very good idea!

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sostock
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Report this Post02-09-2007 10:01 PM Click Here to See the Profile for sostockSend a Private Message to sostockDirect Link to This Post
interesting. i wonder however if its not best to let plants and food crops develop on their own. lets say after a huge, world changing event, that the seeds would no longer grow in the soil? maybe there would not be enough light for them or too cold. while a crop that continued to live in the "wild" would be able to adapt to the new enviroment. just a thought.
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ryan.hess
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Report this Post02-09-2007 10:37 PM Click Here to See the Profile for ryan.hessClick Here to Email ryan.hessSend a Private Message to ryan.hessDirect Link to This Post
 
quote
Originally posted by sostock:
while a crop that continued to live in the "wild" would be able to adapt to the new enviroment. just a thought.


Stop it. Evolution doesn't exist.



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kzelisko
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Report this Post02-09-2007 11:52 PM Click Here to See the Profile for kzeliskoClick Here to Email kzeliskoSend a Private Message to kzeliskoDirect Link to This Post
Man that reminds me of the game fallout. I gotta go watch some 50's nuclear war propaganda now i think.
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F-I-E-R-O
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Report this Post02-09-2007 11:58 PM Click Here to See the Profile for F-I-E-R-OClick Here to Email F-I-E-R-OSend a Private Message to F-I-E-R-ODirect Link to This Post
 
quote
Originally posted by Phranc:

Absolutely useless if they don't put marijuana seeds in there.


and these...

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lurker
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Report this Post02-10-2007 03:07 AM Click Here to See the Profile for lurkerClick Here to Email lurkerSend a Private Message to lurkerDirect Link to This Post
that vault will be quite useless if in 200 years the global warming people are proved wrong and we have an ice age. besides, if theres some kind of global disaster, who's going to be trekking north of norway looking for seeds?

personally, i'd rather see a vault filled with books. great literature, history, science...

[This message has been edited by lurker (edited 02-10-2007).]

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edhering
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Report this Post02-10-2007 03:28 AM Click Here to See the Profile for edheringClick Here to visit edhering's HomePageClick Here to Email edheringSend a Private Message to edheringDirect Link to This Post
Well, I'm not worried about evolution outstripping the seeds in this vault. Evolution takes place at a VERY slow rate; by the time enough changes accumulate in plants to make a significant difference humans will have evolved into energy beings anyway....

Ed
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