Deep beneath an icy Norwegian mountain, above the Arctic Circle, lies the largest concentration of agricultural diversity on Earth.
The Svelbard Global Seed Vault, also known as the “Doomsday” vault or bank, is designed to save the world’s crops and plants if disaster strikes.
Recently, after water flooded the facility and questions about the threat of climate change arose, the Norwegian government decided to plan a redesign of the vault’s structure.
Here are seven things to know about the vault:
What is the purpose of the vault?
If disease pandemics, asteroid crashes, climate change or any other global catastrophes were to ensue, the seeds stored in the Global Seed Vault could be the source for humans to regrow the crops needed for survival.
But the vault was actually intended as a secure storage space for samples of other crop and plant collections at risk.
Where is it?
The vault is located on the Arctic tundra island of Spitsbergen in Svalbard, Norway. The icy mountain housing the Seed Vault is called “Platåberget,” or “plateau mountain” in English, according the Crop Trust.
The vault is about 400 feet deep inside the mountain.
What does it store?
More than 930,000 varieties of food crops are stored in the Global Seed Vault. It has the capacity to store 4.5 million seed samples with each sample containing about 500 seeds, so, according to the CropTrust, a maximum of 2.25 billion seeds can be stored in the vault.
One room in the vault houses seeds for more than 150,000 different varieties of wheat.
How much did the vault cost to build?
The Global Seed Vault, which opened in 2008 was administered by the Ministry of Agriculture and Food on behalf of the Kingdom of Norway and reportedly cost approximately $9 million to build.
Who is in charge?
The Global Crop Diversity Trust (Crop Trust), Nordic Gene Bank (NordGen) and an international advisory council help manage the facility, its funding and operations.
Read more here.
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