3 January, 2023 News stories

Applications to carry out small-scale research projects in the Antarctic in the 2023/24 season are invited from UK-based researchers through the Collaborative Antarctic Science Scheme (CASS).

The Collaborative Antarctic Science Scheme (CASS) provides opportunities for scientists in UK Higher Education Institutes and other approved research organisations to conduct fieldwork which either enhances funded research that has secured BAS logistics support, or supports early-stage research in preparation for submitting a full NERC grant proposal. Meeting the training and development needs of UK scientists at an early stage of their careers is an important part of NERC’s responsibilities; CASS proposals which incorporate such opportunities for early-career scientists are welcomed.

Capacity in the 2023/24 season

BAS are unable to accept any CASS proposals seeking support at Rothera Research Station in the 2023/24 season. This is due to capacity limitations arising from the continuation of large-scale Antarctic Infrastructure Modernisation projects at Rothera, and ongoing efforts to clear a backlog of funded science projects caused by the Covid-19 outbreak.

Applications are invited for support at Bird Island Research Station and Signy Research Station. Please note that due to the current schedule for the RRS Sir David Attenborough, projects based at Signy may be faced with a lengthy deployment of between three and five months from December 2023 to April 2024.

There may also be the opportunity to support science on the RRS Sir David Attenborough as part of a funded science cruise , or during transit periods if spare berths exist and any sampling would not impact the itinerary (i.e. no dedicated ship time required). The exact itinerary for the RRS Sir David Attenborough is not yet known, however if you have an idea for a ship-based CASS project, then please contact the Science Capability Coordinator to discuss support possibilities: SDAscience@bas.ac.uk

Whilst BAS expects to be able to support CASS projects under the current planning scenario for the 2023/24 season, Covid-19 continues to impact planned operations, and should there be any further delays to funded fieldwork or infrastructure projects, this may impact capacity to support CASS projects. BAS reserves the right to cancel support for CASS projects at any time.

Field guides in Antarctic undertaking mountain training
BAS Field Assistants (or mountain Guides) during an evening training exercise.

Former projects and applicants to the Collaborative Antarctic Science Scheme (CASS)

Previous CASS projects have included studying changes to microbial communities in peat moss banks at Signy Island, using new methods to monitor diversity and population structure of Southern Ocean fishes onboard the RRS James Clark Ross, and studying suspended sediment transport at Signy Research Station.

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

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 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.”

How to Apply to the Collaborative Antarctic Science Scheme (CASS)

Potential applicants should note:

  • There will be specific logistics and safety planning requirements which must be complied with ahead of any deployment.
  • Projects should not require logistic resources additional to those already allocated to the Antarctic field programme supported by BAS.
  • Whilst BAS will endeavour to support CASS projects in the 2023/24 season, this will be contingent on there being spare capacity in the BAS Antarctic field programme. As such, further delays to funded fieldwork or infrastructure projects may ultimately preclude support for CASS projects. BAS reserves the right to cancel support for projects at any time

The CASS application deadline for the 2023/24 field season is 4pm on 27 February 2023.

Full details on eligibility requirements, costs, and how to apply can be found on the Collaborative Antarctic Science Scheme page.

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