A Refrigerated Noah’s ark

Svalbard Global Seed Vault, on the Norwegian island of Spitzbergen, which has officially opened on February 26, 2008, is designed to be a fail-safe repository for the world's food crops. It has the capacity to store up to 4.5 million seed samples from almost every important food crop in the world, so that food production can be restarted anywhere on the planet should it be threatened by a regional or global catastrophe. It is situated in an artificial cavern 120 m deep into the sandstone rock of a mountain. A cooling operation started pumping chilly air into the premise in order to lower the surrounding wall's temperature to -18°C on a 10-metre thick layer, thus ensuring that even if the refrigeration systems were to fail, the temperature would take weeks to climb up to a maximum of -4°C, the highest temperature the surrounding permafrost ever reaches. The efficient 30 kW refrigerating system used for the 2-month cool-down period will then be replaced by a smaller 10 kW unit, sufficient to maintain temperature at the same level.