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Climate Change in the Arctic & around the globe

Seeds in transit: from Australia to Svalbard


Ice blog followers may remember my account of a visit to the Svalbard seed vault, which preserves a wide variety of seeds safe under the permafrost of an Arctic mountain for posterity. The story is also online at DW’s environment website.


The idea is that saving a wide diversity of crop seeds could help humankind survive in the future in spite of any disasters occurring – or, for instance, to help agriculture cope with the challenges of a changing climate.
Well the vault has just celebrated its third birthday with a bumper delivery of seeds from different parts of the world. For the first time ever, seeds have been delivered from Australia, just about as far away as you can get from the Arctic. Australia is one of the areas of the world that are particularly vulerable to climate change. It has had to cope with an increasing number of extreme weather events, droughts and floods. The seeds brought to Svalbard were the furthest travelled of the more than 600,000 samples now stored at the vault.
Most of Australia’s food crops come from outside the country, and so are dependent on global crop diversity.
There’s more information on the website of the Global Crop Diversity Trust. See also “Wild Relatives can save our food supply” on why it’s important to preserve crop seeds for posterity.

Date

February 25, 2011 | 2:58 pm

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Melting glaciers causing major problems in Peru

There is an interesting – if worrying – story on the Global Ideas website about the rapid melting of the country’s glaciers and problems being caused by climate change. Peru is regarded as being highly vulnerable to climate change.

Date

February 23, 2011 | 3:32 pm

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“Beyond penguins and polar bears”

Beyond penguins and polar bears is a website you have to look at for the pictures alone – as well as understandable information on polar issues.
It’s actually an educational website for teachers. I found out about it because it has just won a science prize for online education SPORE
The idea is to use the appeal of penguins and polar bears to get kids interested in science. But there ‘s a lot of background on there for us adults as well.

Date

February 22, 2011 | 9:32 am

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Permafrost “tipping point” in less than 20 years?

I have been concerned about the effect of melting permafrost on the climate for quite some time, not least in the wake of encounters with scientists working in Greenland (this picture is Zackenberg, Greenland, 2009) and Alaska. Now research results published by the National Snow and Ice Data Centre (NSDIC) in Boulder, Colorado are indicating that there could be a “tipping point” or a “starting point”, as Professor Kevin Schaefer prefers to call it, in less than 20 years. That means a point when the vast areas of permafrost in Alaska, Canada, Siberia and parts of Europe go from being a “carbon sink” to a carbon source. The study indicates as much as two-thirds of the carbon frozen into the permafrost could be released.
There’s more info on the NSIDC website and on the ips news website, based on an interview with Prof. Schaefer. Not happy reading, but without big reductions in emissions, it will probably be impossible to prevent this. On top of that come the methane emissions, not included in the study. Methane is much more powerful than CO2 as a greenhouse gas.

Date

February 18, 2011 | 3:12 pm

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Changing Arctic on Living Planet

Apologies for the scarce posts since I got back from Tromsö and Arctic Frontiers, but I have been busy.
Have a listen to the radio feature on the increasing business interest resulting from the climate changes in the Arctic on Living Planet

Date

February 17, 2011 | 2:49 pm

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