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Norway’s Underground Doomsday Seed Vault Is Under Threat From Climate Change

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Norway plans to spend roughly $12.7 million to upgrade its “doomsday” seed vault, the world’s largest repository built to protect crops and plants from natural and man-made disasters.

The Scandinavian country announced on Monday the new investment, after melting permafrost caused by unseasonably warm temperatures risked flooding the vault last year.

The Norwegian government said that the upgrades will include a new concrete access tunnel and a service building to house “emergency power and refrigerating units and other electrical equipment that emits heat through the tunnel,” The Verge reported.

According to its official website, the vault requires a temperature of -18ºC “for optimal storage of the seeds.”

The Svalbard Global Seed Vault is located deep inside a mountain on a remote island in the Svalbard archipelago, roughly 620 miles from the North Pole. It was established in 2008, and serves as the primary backup for the world’s other seed banks.

“It is a great and important task to safeguard all the genetic material that is crucial to global food security,” Jon Georg Dale, Norway’s minister of agriculture and food, said in a statement.

The vault has a capacity for 4.5 million varieties of crops, with a maximum of 2.5 billion seeds. The seed vault currently holds more than 890,000 samples, which originate from nearly every country in the world.

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