View Full Version : British Antarctic Survey

Wednesday, December 1st, 2004, 11:03 PM
The British Antarctic Survey (BAS) is a component of the Natural Environment Research Council. Based in Cambridge UK, it has, for almost 60 years, undertaken the majority of Britain's scientific research on and around the Antarctic continent. It now shares that continent with scientists from around thirty countries.

BAS employs over 400 staff, and supports three stations in the Antarctic, at Rothera, Halley and Signy, and two stations on South Georgia, at King Edward Point and Bird Island. The Antarctic operations and science programmes are executed and managed from Cambridge, and rely on a wide-ranging team of professional staff.

Ice-strengthened ships sustain the Antarctic operations. RRS James Clark Ross has advanced facilities for oceanographic research. RRS Ernest Shackleton is primarily a logistics ship used for the resupply of stations. The Royal Navy's Ice Patrol Vessel HMS Endurance has helicopters and provides valuable logistic support. Four Twin Otter aircraft fitted with wheels and skis are operated from Rothera and Halley, while a wheels-only Dash-7 aircraft provides the inter-continental air-link from Rothera to the Falkland Islands, and flies inland to blue ice runways.

The BAS research programme is planned on a five-year timetable. The current programme is described in the booklet Antarctic Science in the Global Context, 2000-2005 . The programme was based on proposals from staff. After international peer review, the most highly rated were integrated into the Survey's infrastructure capability. The outcome is a suite of nine programmes complemented by projects in the medical and environmental sciences and independent research activities. In addition the competitive Antarctic Funding Initiative provides access to Antarctica for BAS and NERC staff and the university community.

The science budget for 2000-2001 was agreed at £29.8 million. Of this, the core strategic science programme was budgeted at £6.5 million and supporting the science, the infrastructure was budgeted at £21.0 million. The latter figure includes £18.0 million expenditure on ships, aircraft and research stations. The high costs involved highlight the challenges BAS faces in operating within a harsh and remote environment.

The mission of the British Antarctic Survey is:

* To undertake a world-class programme of scientific research, survey and long term observations addressing key issues of global or fundamental importance that require access to the Antarctic or related regions
* To sustain for the UK an active and influential regional presence and a leadership role in Antarctic affairs
* To maintain an integrated, well-managed national capability to support the overall Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) science strategy, to exploit research outcomes, and to raise public awareness worldwide
* To assist in the discharge of the UK's international responsibilities under the Antarctic Treaty System and with the administration of the British Antarctic Territory
* To provide reliable and independent advice to the UK government and other stakeholders, contributing to the effectiveness of UK public services and policy
* To provide a focus for national and international co-operation, and for the co-ordination of major research programmes, especially those addressing complex scientific problems or requiring significant technology or infrastructure