On Friday, a 30-kilowatt refrigeration system began cooling the Svalbard Global Seed Bank, the Norwegian concrete vault that was designed to protect 4.5 million of the world's seeds from global calamity.
Unlike the world's 1,400 smaller seed banks, Svalbard's is meant to withstand anything—typhoons, plant epidemics, climate change, even economic depressions and war. It's buried some 400 feet deep inside a mountain, on an island 300 miles from Norway's mainland. (You can feel Svalbard's chilly isolation in the above photo, no?)
Already a chilly 23 degrees Fahrenheit, researchers say that, in the next two months of cooling, it will get down to 0 degrees. With temps that low, they say, the seeds will be safe for up to 1,000 years.
The vault is scheduled to open on February 26.