A “Doomsday Library” in the Arctic Is Storing the World’s Data

April 08, 2017


Norway is going all in with its preparations to safeguard the future of humanity. They’ve put millions of dollars into securing the future of vegetation with the Svalbard Global Seed Vault tucked away in the Arctic. The vault runs 130 meters (426 feet) below the surface and houses thousands upon thousands of seeds. A sister vault has been established to safely house data converted to an analog form.

The new data vault, called the World Artic Archive, is located around 998 kilometers (620 miles) from the North Pole. The archive is located in a converted coal mine just a short distance away from the seed vault. It will hold digital data converted by Piql, a Norwegian data preservation company, on specially developed film. The company says that the data will be preserved for at least 500 years, which will hopefully be enough time for aliens to find our planet once we go extinct.

Image: Piql
Image Credit: Piql


So far, two countries, Mexico and Brazil, have submitted data to the vault. Rune Bjerkestrand, founder of the company, told Live Science in an interview, “In their case, [the deposit] is documents, different kinds of documents from their national histories, like, for example, the Brazilian Constitution. For Mexico, it’s important documents, even from the Inca period, which is a very important historical memory.”

We wouldn’t have to wait for the apocalypse for this information to be useful. Just like with the first withdrawal from the seed vault, should any of the protected data be lost in the country, it won’t be lost forever. In the case of the seed vault, a gene bank in Aleppo, Syria was damaged in the ongoing conflict back in 2015. Samples of various plants were able to replace those lost. So, should some event cause data loss in the providing country, whatever was destroyed could be reclaimed.

References: io9, The Verge

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