Norway’s frozen Svalbard is home to a top-of-the-world seed bank
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Svalbard, Norway: seeding the future

The Svalbard Global Seed Vault, also called the “doomsday vault,” is designed to protect millions of crop seeds from natural disasters, wars or even global warming. The foundation that operates the vault hopes that the remote location in arctic Norway, not far from the North Pole, will help ensure its survival. (Mari Tefre / Global Crop Diversity Trust)
The Svalbard Global Seed Vault, which will house and protect crop seeds from around the world, is nearing completion. It will be housed inside a frozen mountain near Longyearbyen, Norway. (Nabil Najjar / For the Times)
The vault, on a sparsely populated archipelago in Norway, consists of three concrete chambers designed to withstand flood, fire, war and global warming. (Mari Tefre / Global Crop Diversity Trust)
Another look deep into the “doomsday” seed vault. The Norwegian government has paid for its construction. The Global Crop Diversity Trust will operate the vault and underwrite day-to-day operations. (Nabil Najjar / For the Times)
“This is a library of life,” says Cary Fowler, director of the Global Crop Diversity Trust, which operates the vault and is devoted to protecting seeds like those he carries. “We’ll be taking the knowledge embodied in these genes to fashion new solutions.” (Pierre-Henry Deshayes / AFP / Getty Images)
Longyearbyen, the northernmost inhabited place on Earth, was once a rugged coal mining community. These days, with the construction of the seed vault nearby, the scientists are taking over. (Nabil Najjar / For the Times)
Tourism fuels the economy these days in Longyearbyen, a former mining town. Its relative isolation is a key to the security it provides. (Mari Tefre / Global Crop Diversity Trust)