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CASS – Information for Applicants

The Collaborative Antarctic Science Scheme (CASS) operates as follows:

  1. Eligibility requirements for Principal Investigator and Co-Investigator are the same as those for a normal NERC grant proposal.
  2. The fieldwork for a CASS proposal need not necessarily be conducted by the Principal Investigator or Co-Investigator. A postdoctoral researcher (or student, subject to supervisory arrangements being agreed with BAS) may be nominated by the Principal Investigator. However, an appropriate level of medical fitness is required for all personnel working on polar stations or ships, or in the field. Fitness will be assessed and confirmed by the BAS Medical Unit prior to deployment. All personnel will be required to complete specific training and briefing before being allowed access to Antarctic facilities. Such training may take place prior to, and during, deployment.
  3. There is no provision in the CASS to fund any costs for scientific equipment or materials.
  4. Requests for more than minor logistic support beyond that already allocated to the existing programme to which the CASS proposal is attached will not be considered. Proposals that require such additional costs should be prepared for submission to other NERC funding opportunities.
  5. Proposals may be in any of the range of scientific disciplines that NERC supports, including atmospheric, Earth, biological, terrestrial and aquatic sciences, from the deep oceans to the upper atmosphere. Fieldwork may be conducted at, or in the vicinity of, any BAS-operated research station, or during a planned science cruise on a BAS research vessel, subject to there being the logistic capacity available. Applicants may request use of research facilities provided at BAS Antarctic research stations or on a BAS research vessel.
  6. The environmental impacts of a project should not outweigh the likely benefits of the scientific research and its outcomes. All proposed activities are subject to an environmental impact assessment under the Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty (Environmental Protocol), implemented in the UK through the Antarctic Act (1994).
  7. Investigations on living fauna will need to be considered – and approved – by the BAS Animal Welfare and Ethics Review Body (AWERB).
  8. Permit applications to the UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office are required for certain types of activities such as geological or biological sampling. The applications will be managed by BAS.
  9. Each proposal, consisting of the Collaborative Antarctic Science Scheme form and a description of the scientific investigation (articulated within no more than two sides of an A4-sized document) should set out the scientific case for support and describe the BAS infrastructure that is needed. The proposal must be accompanied by a Letter of Support from the Science Leader of the BAS-based science partnership, or from the Principal Investigator of the NERC-funded project or programme to which the CASS proposal will be attached. It is the applicant’s responsibility to ensure that the appropriate Letter of Support is provided with the application.
  10. Proposals should normally request fieldwork support for no more than one individual. An exception may be made when the fieldwork is to be conducted by a student and where supervision by an appropriate BAS scientist will not be available.
  11. Proposals should be submitted to the Antarctic Access Office at BAS (email: afibas@bas.ac.uk), to arrive no later than 16:00 on 15th March 2024 preceding the intended fieldwork. Proposals relating to the late-season ship rotations to Rothera must be submitted no later than 16:00 BST on 12th April 2024. Submissions received after these deadlines will only be considered if there are exceptional mitigating circumstances for the late bid and if the requested logistic support is still feasible on the proposed timescale.
  12. The contact details of intended fieldwork participants should be supplied to the Antarctic Access Office promptly after approval for logistic support has been granted. Any subsequently proposed changes in personnel must be agreed with the Antarctic Access Office no later than 30th June preceding the intended Antarctic fieldwork season. This ensures that the necessary logistic planning arrangements are considered to the same timetable as for other BAS Antarctic operations, and that the fieldwork personnel are included in prescribed training schedules, in preparation for Antarctic deployment.

Assessment of Applications

Proposals submitted to the Collaborative Antarctic Science Scheme will be considered jointly by BAS Director of Science and by the NERC Head of Atmospheric and Polar Sciences. Decisions will be made on the basis of the following criteria:

  • Does the proposal fit the specific requirements and intended use of the CASS scheme?
  • Is the proposal cost-effective? Does it meet thresholds of quality and align with NERC remit and strategy?
  • Is the proposal supported by the Principal Investigator or leader of the existing Antarctic activity to which the CASS proposal is attached?
  • Are the requested logistic resources available, without jeopardising other NERC-funded projects or agreed international collaborations?
  • Is the CASS project likely to lead to one or more publications in peer-reviewed journals?

Where the number of CASS proposals received in a given year exceed the logistic support capacity available and/or exceeds the financial support for CASS available from NERC, a Panel will be convened by NERC to provide independent assessment of the relative scientific merits of the proposals. The Panel will be asked to recommend a priority order for supporting the proposals, taking into account the specific resources requested, and those available.

The Antarctic Access Office Coordinator, based at BAS, will inform CASS applicants of the outcome of their proposals and, for successful proposals, will liaise on the preparations needed for the fieldwork and will be the first point of contact for enquiries.

Further Information

Support from the “NERC Collaborative Antarctic Science Scheme and the British Antarctic Survey” should be acknowledged in all resulting publications.

For further information, you are advised to contact the Antarctic Access Office, William Mossman; email: afibas@bas.ac.uk