February 27th, 02008 by Alexander Rose - Twitter: @zander
Amazingly only a few years after it begun the Seed Vault in Svalbard has opened. I cant wait to go and see how they built a multi-millennial structure so fast.
The Svalbard Global Seed Vault opened today on a remote island in the Arctic Circle, receiving inaugural shipments of 100 million seeds that originated in over 100 countries. With the deposits ranging from unique varieties of major African and Asian food staples such as maize, rice, wheat, cowpea, and sorghum to European and South American varieties of eggplant, lettuce, barley, and potato, the first deposits into the seed vault represent the most comprehensive and diverse collection of food crop seeds being held anywhere in the world.
Each vault is surrounded by frozen arctic permafrost, ensuring the continued viability of the seeds should the electricity supply fail. The low temperature and moisture level inside the vaults will ensure low metabolic activity, keeping the seeds viable. If properly stored and maintained at minus 20 degrees Celsius (about minus 4 degrees Fahrenheit), some seeds in the vault will be viable for a millennium or more. For example, barley can last 2000 years, wheat 1700 years, and sorghum almost 20,000 years.
A work of art also will make the vault visible for miles around. Artist Dyveke Sanne and KORO, the Norwegian agency overseeing art in public spaces, have worked together to fill the roof and vault entrance with highly reflective steel, mirrors, and prisms. The installation acts as a beacon, reflecting polar light in the summer months, while in the winter, a network of 200 fibre-optic cables will give the piece a muted greenish-turquoise and white light.
One my favorite bits of the story is that the vault is built near the village of “Longyearbyen,” what a great name for a town with endless winters!