Enlarge (credit: Mari Tefre/Svalbard Globale frøhvelv)

In Arctic Svalbard, there is a vault that might sound like a sci-fi plot device. Completed in 2008, the Global Seed Vault is a remote archive for safeguarding seeds for thousands of cop varieties. If anything dramatic should happen elsewhere around the world, we want these seeds to be there.

The vault consists of a giant freezer room bored into a mountain, protected by the bedrock around it and the permafrost above it. But according to a report in The Guardian, the vault experienced an unhappy surprise recently—melting permafrost in winter.

The Arctic just experienced its second-warmest winter on record (surpassed only by 2016), and Svalbard saw remarkable temperatures and even rain. In fact, Svalbard averaged more than 4 °C above even the 2004-2013 average.

Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments