''Doomsday'' Seed Vault Opens Near North Pole

''Doomsday'' Seed Vault Opens Near North Pole
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February 26, 2008A half moon shines over the entrance to the new Svalbard Global Seed Vault in a recent photo.

The Norwegian Arctic island of Svalbard will see no direct sunlight for at least another week, but the vault's opening today brightened the spirits of dozens of guests who gathered for its dedication ceremonies.

The "doomsday" vault is designed to keep millions of seed samples safe from natural and unnatural disasters: global warming, asteroid strikes, plant diseases, nuclear warfare, and even earthquakesin fact, the structure absorbed a magnitude 6.2 quake here last week without a crack.

Though Norway owns the global seed bankthe first of its kindother countries can store seeds in it and remove them as needed. The genes in the seeds may someday be needed to adapt crops to endure climate change, droughts, blights, and other potential catastrophes.

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—Photograph by Mari Tefre/Global Crop Diversity Trust
 
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