16 February, 2010 News stories

There is a distinctly cosmopolitan feel around British Antarctic Survey’s Rothera Research Station this month (February). Science teams from eight countries enjoyed Rothera’s hospitality as they passed through on their way home after months working deep field. At one point there were seven Borek aircraft — operated on behalf of three national Antarctic programmes — parked on the apron next to the BAS fleet of 4 twin otters and one Dash-7. Rothera’s dining room buzzed with the sound of Canadian, American, Italian, Finnish, Russian, South American and German accents as scientists and air crew swapped ice stories.

US Polar Program scientist Ellen Moseley-Thomson’s multi-national ice core team returned to Rothera after weeks on the Larsen Ice Shelf. The US research ship Nathaniel B Palmer called into Rothera twice while it supported scientists located around the Antarctic Peninsula and the US research ship Laurence Gould worked around Rothera on a collaborative biosciences cruise with BAS. German and Finish meteorologists from the Alfred Wegener Institute have joined forces with BAS’ Tom Lachlan-Cope, Alexandra Weiss and Russ Ladkin in an airborne campaign involving a German Basler and BAS Twin Otter aircraft specially equipped with monitoring sensors.

Rothera Research Station Base Commander John Withers said,

“Good collaboration between science teams and national Antarctic programme managers is essential when working in Antarctica. Sharing knowledge, expertise and operational resources is effective and adds value to each national programme. It is very rewarding to see such a wide mix of people here at Rothera — and a great opportunity to meet new friends. For me this level of cooperation symbolises the true spirit of Antarctica.”

Twelve aircraft landing at different times in one day is a challenge. BAS Field Operations Manager Andy Barker and his team of radio operators worked round the clock to follow flights and ensure a safe landing for all. He said,

“It was very exciting to have so many aircraft and their crew transit through Rothera from the US South Pole and McMurdo stations. I’m pretty sure this is a record number of planes in at one time though and managing their arrivals certainly kept us on our toes.”