by Staff Writers
Stockholm (AFP) May 20, 2017
Norway on Saturday said it would boost protection of a seed storage vault designed to protect the world's crops from disaster, after soaring temperatures caused water to leak into its entrance.
Situated deep inside a mountain on a remote Arctic island in a Norwegian archipelago, the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, dubbed the "doomsday" vault, is the largest of its kind and can store up to 2.5 billion seeds.
Freezing temperatures inside the vault keep the seeds, sealed in packages and stored on shelves, usable for a long period of time. Permafrost and thick rock should guarantee the seeds are frozen and secured for centuries.
But in October 2016, the warmest year on record, melting permafrost caused water to leak about 15 metres (49 feet) into the entrance of a 100-metre tunnel inside the vault.
No damage was caused to the seeds and they remain safe inside the vault at the required storage temperature of -18 degrees Celsius (-4 degrees Fahrenheit).
But the vault's managers are now constructing a waterproof wall inside for additional protection, a Norwegian government spokeswoman told AFP, adding all heat sources would also be removed from inside the vault.
"It's not good to have unnecessary heat inside" if water is coming in and permafrost is melting, Hege Njaa Aschim said.
"We have to listen to climate experts (and) we are prepared to do anything to protect the seed vault," she added.
The vault currently stores more than 880,000 seed samples from nearly every country in the world, including food staples such as maize, rice, wheat, cowpea and sorghum from Africa and Asia.
It also protects European and South American varieties of aubergine, lettuce, barley and potatoes.
"The water that leaked in had turned into ice... we had it removed," Aschim said. Norwegian authorities are "taking this very seriously" and "following it continuously," she added.
There are 1,700 gene banks around the world that safeguard collections of food crops and many of these are exposed to natural disasters and wars, according to the independent Global Crop Diversity Trust.
The Svalbard vault was opened in 2008 with the aim to provide a "fail-safe seed storage facility, built to stand the test of time and the challenge of natural or man-made disasters," the organisation says on its website.
"It is the final back up," it adds.
Each country that deposits the seeds into the vault have control and access to their own material.
Washington DC (SPX) May 22, 2017
Continuous cropping systems without rotations or cover crops are perceived as unsustainable for long-term yield and soil health. Continuous systems, defined as continually producing a crop on the same parcel of land for more than three years, is thought to reduce yields. Given that crop rotations and soil amendments (cover crops and poultry litter) may alleviate issues associated wit ... read more
Farming Today - Suppliers and Technology
|The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2017 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement|