Svalbard Global Seed Vault: Within hours of the conclusion of the official opening ceremony of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, the Vault was already in business. Some 268,000 seed samples containing more than 100 million individual seeds that represent the agriculture of 220 countries have already been catalogued, coded and moved into the Vault.. These seeds were sent to Svalbard from 20 different research institutes and national gene collections.
Of course, this represents just a small fraction of the eventual capacity of the vault that could easily hold more than 2 billion seeds. Now that the Seed Vault has opened, its main work will be receiving, recording and storing the seeds that are being sent to Svalbard for safe keeping by gene banks around the world.
Although the normal temperature inside the permafrost mountain is between minus 1 – 2 degrees, the optimum goal for the storage of the seeds is minus 19. Huge coolers have been running in the vault since November.
Photo: Mari Tefre/Svalbard Global Seed Vault
According to Cary Fowler, executive director of the Global Crop Diversity Trust, one of the organizations that oversees the management and funding of the vault, the rooms are taking longer to cool to the optimal minus 18 than expected, but that is actually good news for the long-term operation of the Vault. The slow cooling indicates that the mountain rock that surrounds the vault is more impervious to temperature changes than had been believed and, thus, will also be more resistant to increases in air temperature in the case of global warming.