Seed Vault renovations begin

After a water-intrusion scare earlier this year, the international seed repository is beefing up its entryway

Svalbard Global Seed Vault

Photo: Frode Ramone / Wikimedia
The Svalbard Global Seed Vault was designed as a safeguard for the genetic diversity of Earth’s plant life. The frozen tundra surrounding it should keep seeds a constant temperature, but climate change requires some re-engineering.

M. Michael Brady
Asker, Norway

Renovation work has begun on the Svalbard Global Seed Vault access tunnel to prevent threatening climate-change-driven meltwater intrusions as those of last May. The work is being planned and administered by Statsbygg, a public sector administration company responsible to the Ministry of Local Government and Modernization. Today, the vault holds the world’s largest reserve stock of seeds, now some 930,000, intended to preserve the genetic variety of the world’s food plants.

The civil engineering works include removing more than 22,000 cubic yards of earth to make way for a new concrete access tunnel that will be surrounded by soil containing cooling pipes that will ensure and preserve the permafrost vital to maintaining the low temperature of the vault. Other works include upgrades of technical systems, the construction of a 180-square-meter (1,938-square-foot) service center building located 130 feet from the Vault entrance, and the preparation of two additional vaults to store seeds. The works are scheduled to be completed by May 2019.

Further reading:
• “New protections for seed vault,” The Norwegian American, June 2, 2017:
Svalbard globale frøhvelv, Svalbard Global Seed vault, Longyearbyen, Svalbard, overview of the vault as built, Oslo, Statsbygg, 2008, report number 671/2008, downloadable from Statsbygg site:

This article originally appeared in the Dec. 15, 2017, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784.4617.

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M. Michael Brady

M. Michael Brady was born, raised, and educated as a scientist in the United States. After relocating to the Oslo area, he turned to writing and translating. In Norway, he is now classified as a bilingual dual national.