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Our organisation

British Antarctic Survey (BAS), an institute of the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), delivers and enables world-leading interdisciplinary research in the Polar Regions. Its skilled science and support staff based in Cambridge, Antarctica and the Arctic, work together to deliver research that uses the Polar Regions to advance our understanding of Earth and our impact on it.

Through its extensive logistic capability and know-how BAS facilitates access for the British and international science community to the UK polar research operation. Numerous national and international collaborations, combined with an excellent infrastructure, help sustain a world-leading position for the UK in Antarctic affairs. The UK is one of over thirty countries operating scientific research facilities in Antarctica.

Polar Science for Planet Earth – 10 minute video. Find out about the frozen continent, the important science that is carried out and its relevance to the rest of the planet.

Our funding

The BAS annual budget is around £50 million. The majority of this funding comes from NERC (Natural Environment Research Council) the leading funder of independent research, training and innovation in environmental science in the UK.  NERC is one of seven Research Councils, operating under the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills. NERC’s activities and funding decisions are independent of government.

British Antarctic Survey’s accounts are published in the NERC Annual Report and Accounts.   The NERC Delivery Plan lists spend on Antarctic logistics and infrastructure.

Funding from the European Union underpins several pan-European collaborations to investigate topics such as future changes in Arctic sea-ice, the impact of ocean acidification on marine invertebrates, and space weather research.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office allocates revenue, from income tax in the British Antarctic Territory and other sources, to a range of activities. These include the operation of King Edward Point Research Station on South Georgia, the Discovering Antarctica education and schools resource and other environmental and research projects to provide practical benefits in the region.

This mix of funding is expected to continue and be supplemented by new sources resulting from partnerships with other research institutions, as well as from business.

The UK focal point for polar research

BAS is the focal point for UK Antarctic research and operations.  We manage the NERC-funded Arctic Research Programme and operate and manage the UK Research Station at Ny Alesund.  Scientific access to the polar regions requires an operational infrastructure, including research stations, ships and aircraft, to provide the facilities and level of safety required in these remote and hostile parts of the planet.

UK polar science delivery – the international dimension

No one nation has the capability to study the entire Antarctic continent or the Arctic. International collaboration and co-operation are essential to achieve a co-ordinated research effort. BAS plays an active role in shaping research programmes and delivering efficient operational support through its interaction with international bodies including the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR), The Council of Managers of National Antarctic Programmes  (COMNAP), the International Arctic Science Committee; and EU-PolarNet.

Our strategy

Our Vision and mission are designed to improve knowledge about our planet, to advance understanding of the processes, vulnerability and risks that arise from natural and  man-made phenomena.  Our Science Strategy aims to increase our ability to predict environmental change, and inform the policy and economic decision making process that will help society adapt and thrive in the future.  Our Operational Strategy aims to support Britain’s polar research effort through the provision and management of large-scale polar infrastructure assets, services and facilities in the most cost-effective and efficient way possible.

Corporate social responsibility

As a component of NERC British Antarctic Survey shares its approach and commitment to corporate responsibility with respect to social, ethical and environmental issues.  NERC Corporate Responsibility focuses on four commitments:

  • Living our values in the environment in which we work.
  • Transparent business practices, with partners that share our values.
  • Engaging and supporting our community, internally and locally.
  • Research with integrity, carried out by a diverse, representative and outstanding body of researchers.