13 January, 2021 News stories

Applications to carry out small-scale research projects in the Antarctic in the 2021/22 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 2021/22 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 2021/22 season.

Automatic Weather Station (AWS) on the Larsen Ice Shelf with the BAS twin otter in background.
Automatic Weather Station (AWS) on the Larsen Ice Shelf with the BAS twin otter in background.

Previously, in the 2019/20 Antarctic season, 11 CASS projects received funding. 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.

Rebecca De Leij, PhD student at the University of Southampton and British Antarctic Survey, participated in a CASS project at Rothera Research Station during the 2019/20 season,

It was an invaluable experience to be able to go to Antarctica and see first-hand the sea urchin, Sterechinus neumayeri that I had been studying back in the UK, in the its natural environment. Not only did it broaden my understanding of the species in the context of its biotic community, but I also gained an appreciation for the unique conditions which these animals live. As well as collecting a large portion of data for my PhD thesis, CASS allowed me to experience the beautiful wildlife and landscape of Antarctica, all of which made the trip unforgettable.’ 

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.
  • Whilst BAS expects to be able to support CASS projects under the current scenario planning for the 2021/22 season, the situation with the COVID-19 pandemic remains uncertain and planning schedules are subject to change. BAS reserves the right to cancel support for projects where disruptions are severe.

The CASS application deadline for the 2021/22 field season: Monday 15th March 2021, 4pm.

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

If you have any questions, or would like to discuss the feasibility of  your proposed fieldwork, please contact Katie Gosling, Antarctic Access Office Coordinator afibas@bas.ac.uk.