13 January, 2020

Applications to carry out small-scale research projects in the Antarctic in the 2020/21 season are invited from UK-based researchers.

The Collaborative Antarctic Science Scheme (CASS) provides fieldwork opportunities for scientists in UK Higher Education Institutes and other approved research organisations, which expands funded projects or supports early research in preparation for submitting a full NERC grant proposal.

The 2020/21 field season will see the continuation of a large scale construction project at the Rothera Research Station, as part of the modernisation programme. As a result, there will remain very limited capacity to support additional science activities at Rothera, this includes CASS projects.

In order to maintain the usual capacity to support CASS, applications are welcome for CASS projects to be supported aboard the HMS Protector, the Royal Navy’s ice patrol ship.

During the austral summer, HMS Protector travels to various locations in and around the Antarctic Peninsula surveying and gathering data on the Southern Ocean. The vessel also provides support to the British Antarctic Survey (BAS), which includes assisting CASS projects in the 2020/21 season.

11 CASS projects received funding in the 2019/20 Antarctic season. Projects included using new methods to monitor diversity and population structure of Southern Ocean fishes on board the RRS James Clark Ross, studying suspended sediment transport at Signy Research Station and investigating the role of the seafloor in supplying nutrients to the oceans at Rothera Research Station.

Dr Sev Kender, University of Exeter, led a CASS project on board the RRS James Clark Ross during the 2018/19 season. ‘This was the first time I travelled South, and I was thrilled to be part of a large multidisciplinary project investigating the oceanography and biota of Antarctic bays with rapidly retreating ice shelves. Having worked on Antarctic projects for some years, CASS provided me an exceptional opportunity to investigate and experience Antarctic oceanic processes first hand. I also had a great time visiting Rothera and Palmer research stations, and looking out for whales, seals and penguins in my spare time.’

Potential applicants should note:

  • There will be specific logistics and safety planning requirements, which must be complied with ahead of any deployment.
  • Scheduling of the HMS Protector work programme is not usually confirmed until May/ June, therefore approval to support CASS projects would not be announced until this point.
  • Projects should not require logistic resources additional to those already allocated to the Antarctic field programme supported by BAS.

The CASS application deadline for the 2020/21 field season: Monday 9th March 2020, 4pm.

Full details on eligibility requirements, costs and how to apply can be found here.

If you have any questions please contact Katie Gosling, Polar Funding Coordinator afibas@bas.ac.uk.