“Doomsday” Document Vault Opened

Recently we reported on the deposit of 50,000 seeds into the “Doomsday Vault” on Svalbard Island in Norway. The vault is buried in the side of a snow packed mountainside and sealed to preserve the precious seeds that produce Earth’s food supply. In case of a catastrophic event jeopardizing our most fruitful plants and vegetables, these seeds are stored safely and can remain usable for nearly two centuries. The consistent cool temperatures resulting from the surrounding permafrost act as a built in refrigeration system.

Now, another similar storage system on the same island, Svalbard, is serving to protect the massive information files for humanity. The new “Digital Doomsday Vault” or Arctic World Archive, managed by Norwegian company Piql as well as a Norwegian coal mining company, will store data transferred to film for 1,000 years or more.

Global seed vault Svalbard Island Norway

Global Doomsday seed vault on Svalbard Island. Global Crop Diversity Trust photo.

National Archives of Mexico and the National Archives of Brazil have sent data so far to be stored in the vault.The Brazilian constitution was one of the documents sent though the storage facility is open to any and all historic documents states Piql.

All data processed by Piql will be formatted to photosensitive film which is impossible to delete or manipulate and is able to resist heavy wear and tear. When data is stored in analog form the contents is protected from remote alteration or cyber attacks of any kind. Considered more future proof than digital, analog requires no special updates or codecs to read the information if some rest of catastrophic degree were to occur. As long as internet servers are functional all data will remain accessible online and digitally delivered or shipped by request of a user.

These film reels will be stored deep inside a permafrost encased abandoned mine with a consistent temperature of 0 degrees Celsius.

Photographers stationed outside the “Doomsday” seed vault in Svalbard at its opening in 2008. (AP Photo/John McConnico)

Having both the “Doomsday” seed vault and now, the “Doomsday” data vault on the same island, Svalbard, opens up discussion from critics on ease of terrorism or natural disaster implications. With the widespread and multi – level destabilization in our world today, these precious archives will help humans piece together a cultural puzzle should a catastrophe of mass proportions destroy large amounts of data.

Why Narwhals Are Awesome

Narwhals are one of the rarest and most unique whales on the planet Earth. They are also vastly mysterious and tend to capture the imaginations of many people, especially those fascinated with the Arctic. The distinct spiraled tusk or tooth that protrudes from the whales upper jaw lends to their enduring mythology. The tusk can grow up to 10 feet and some Narwhals will even sprout two tusks. These animals can weigh up to 4,200 pounds and grow to 17 feet in length. The photo below by Paul Nicklen for National Geographic and World Wildlife Fund provides a great look at the Narwhal’s tooth.

Narwhal in Arctic waters.

Narwhal with spiral tooth rising from the Arctic water. Paul Nicklen photo for National Geographic and World Wildlife Fund.

The Narwhal population is currently at more than 80,000 worldwide. The majority are found in  Atlantic and Russian Arctic sea waters. Smaller populations dwell in Greenland and Norwegian waters. In summer they migrate in pods of 10-100 whales closer to shorelines and in winter they swim farther out to sea and live under sea ice, surfacing in open leads of water. Their preference is to stay at the surface but Narwhals can dive up to 5,000 feet. They feed wherever they can find krill, fish or squid in the cold northern waters.

Narwhals communicate through various trills, clicks and squeals. Males will often cross tusks in  behavior known as “tusking“. Scientists are researching this behavior trying to distinguish whether it’s another form of communication,  sexual display or friendly contact.  Females become pregnant between March and May and have a gestation period of up to 16 months giving birth to a single calf. Calving every three years, females will nurse for a year or more.

The environmental conditions in which narwhals exist are truly awesome in that they require uncanny survival traits. Existing in the extreme cold and icy regions takes a unique genetic make-up. Narwhals are also being threatened by increasing oil and gas exploration in their native waters. All this exploration leads to more ocean shipping traffic as well. These factors cause noise pollution in the dark ocean waters where narwhals and other marine mammals rely on quietness to communicate with each other and locate food sources. This relatively new and growing threat could lead to dire consequences for many species. For more information check out this World Wildlife Fund site. This WWF initiative helps raise awareness of the noise pollution affects and address the threats to Narwhals and other whales and marine mammals.

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