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Norway Opens its Second ‘Doomsday’ Vault: The World Arctic Archive

If (or when) the world ends, there is one place in Norway that has the potential to save whatever is left of humanity. The World Arctic Archive, Norway’s second “Doomsday Vault,” has opened near the first of its kind, the Global Seed Vault. Both vaults are located on the island of Svalbard, in the freezing tundra, and about 620 miles from the North Pole. They are built specifically to survive a nuclear apocalypse.

The World Arctic Archive was built in “Mine 3,” an abandoned coal mine that is now home to potentially the world’s safest data storage unit. To store data here, a Norwegian company, Piql, converts digital data to a photosensitive, analog film, which when stored is expected to last 500 to 1000 years. So far, 2 countries have sent information to be stored there; Brazil which submitted historical documents like its constitution, and Mexico which sent in ancient Incan period documents.

The World Arctic Archive is built in the same mountain as the Global Seed Vault, which houses 1.5 million of the world’s most important seed crops. The vault has already begun to help prevent global disaster as its first withdrawal was in 2015, sending samples of wheat, barley, and grasses to the Syrian city of Aleppo, who’s environment was damaged in the country’s ongoing civil war.

While we may not have to worry about some kind of crazy mass extinction yet, both of these vaults stand at the ready to provide the resources to rebuild society, or to simply educate any future visitors about a lost civilization.

Jack is a senior at the University of Wisconsin-Stout, originally from Plymouth, Minnesota. He is majoring in Professional Communication and Emerging Media with a minor in Spanish.
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