Deimos-2 images show Platåberget on Spitsbergen Island, in Norway’s Svalbard archipelago, where the Svalbard Global Seed Vault is located.
The images were released following recent news that water from melting permafrost entered the facility.
The image on the left shows, Svalbard Airport, Longyear, on the top. This is the main airport serving Svalbard in Norway. Located 1.6 nautical miles – 3 kilometers – northwest of Longyearbyen, it is the northernmost airport in the world with public scheduled flights.
On the bottom left of the image, the satellite ground station SvalSat can be seen. The facility consists of 31 multi-mission and customer-dedicated antennas. This station provides ground services to more satellites than any other facility in the world, including Deimos Imaging. Deimos-2, the satellite that captured these images, is operated 24/7, with a network of four ground stations that include the one located here. This assures a contact every orbit, and therefore the capacity of commanding the satellite and downloading data every 90 minutes.
The Svalbard Global Seed Vault is at the center of the image on the left, while the image on the right shows a zoom in on it. This storage facility aims to insure against the loss of seeds in other genebanks and to preserve the world’s crops from future disasters. It stores backup of 5,000 crop species and 930,000 seeds from all over the world, holding the world’s largest and most diverse seed collection.
Reports emerged on Friday, May 19, that a record warm summer, blamed on climate change, and heavy rain at the end of winter caused a flood in the vault’s entrance portal. Even though the water froze before reaching the seeds, and it didn’t impact them, this breach calls into question the ability of the vault to survive in case of a catastrophe.
Our satellite imagery is a great tool to timely and cost-effectively monitor and measure the effects of climate change, disasters and extreme weather variations all over the world. It is a key tool for research on land cover and land management, which can be used to analyse and mitigate climate change. Moreover, archive imagery is key to detect and assess changes over time.