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Doomsday seed bank gears up for business

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Workers spray concrete on the walls of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault in Longyearbyen, Norway, during the construction phase in August.

Cooldown process begins for vault dug into Arctic mountainside

OSLO, Norway - Refrigeration units on Friday begin cooling a new doomsday vault dug into an already frigid Arctic mountainside to protect the world's seeds in case of a global catastrophe.

Norway blasted the Svalbard Global Seed Vault deep into the permafrost of a remote Arctic archipelago to protect as many as 4.5 million of the world's agricultural seeds from climate change, plant epidemics, natural disasters or war. It is due to open Feb. 26.

The Svalbard Archipelago, 300 miles (480 kilometers) north of the mainland, was selected because of its remote location far from many threats, as well as for its cold climate and permafrost.

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In announcing it would create a global seed bank on the Svalbard Islands, Norway did not say exactly where but the archipelago includes a few existing settlements like this one at Alesund.
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