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Collaborative Antarctic Science Scheme – Introduction

About the Collaborative Antarctic Science Scheme (CASS)

*** Applicants should carefully review the ‘Capacity in the 2023/24 field season‘ section of this webpage prior to submitting an application ***

The Collaborative Antarctic Science Scheme (previously known as the Collaborative Gearing Scheme – CGS) provides opportunities for UK researchers to access NERC-BAS Antarctic research stations and marine science cruises for the purpose of conducting small-scale, fieldwork-based science projects that do not require logistic resources additional to those already allocated to the Antarctic field programme supported by BAS.

The projects should enhance existing funded research that has secured BAS logistic support, or may explore new ideas or test hypotheses in preparation for a funding bid to NERC. The Scheme does not provide funding for salaries, capital equipment or other direct science costs. Research proposals submitted for CASS support are expected to be relevant to NERC’s science remit, involve minimal impact on BAS logistic resources, and lead to findings that will be disseminated in the peer-reviewed literature.

Antarctica offers a unique and near-pristine environment in which to conduct science of global significance. As one of the research centres of the UK Natural Environment Research Council, the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) provides UK scientists and overseas collaborators with access to UK facilities and infrastructure in Antarctica, the coastal seas and oceans that surround it, and in the sub-Antarctic.

The usual mechanism for UK-based scientists to secure access to Antarctic logistic support from BAS is through the submission of competitive proposals to NERC funding opportunities. Grants awarded by NERC through its Discovery Science, Large Grant, Fellowship or Strategic research programme opportunities, and with an agreed requirement for Antarctic fieldwork, will be supported by BAS according to guidelines given elsewhere. The Collaborative Antarctic Science Scheme (CASS) – which has been operating since 2001 – provides an additional route to access Antarctic support and makes efficient use of any spare capacity in the Antarctic field programme supported by BAS.

Through the CASS, NERC provides the opportunity for scientists in recognised UK  Higher Education Institutes (or other Research Council Institutes, or approved Independent Research Organisations) to undertake small-scale collaborative science projects that, by attaching additional personnel, instrumentation, or tasks to existing Antarctic activities, or using research station infrastructure, offer significant additional science outcomes. The CASS only provides access to Antarctic logistics and financial support to cover some specific costs as described under ‘CASS – Requirements and Costs’. It does not provide funding for salaries, capital equipment or other direct science costs.

The BAS Science Summary booklets provide information on field and station-based science projects in each Antarctic summer season.

Science Summaries 2022-23
Science Summaries 2021-22
Science Summaries 2018-19
Science Summaries 2017-18
Science Summaries 2016-17

Capacity in the 2023/24 field 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 BAS’ 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 ship schedule, projects based at Signy may be faced with a lengthy deployment of between 3 and 5 months from December 2023 to April 2024.

There may also be the opportunity to support science on the RRS Sir David Attenborough (SDA) 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 SDA is not yet known, however if you have an idea for a ship-based CASS project, then please contact the SDA Science Capability Coordinator SDAscience@bas.ac.uk to discuss support possibilities.

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 BAS’ capacity to support CASS projects. BAS reserves the right to cancel support for CASS projects at any time.

Submission deadline: 16:00 on 27th February 2023 (for applications for fieldwork support during the 2023/24 field season)

Collaborative Antarctic Science Scheme form – application form for the 2023/24 field season

Please see the Requirements and Costs and Information for Applicants webpages for further information on the CASS.