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Collaborative Antarctic Science Scheme – Introduction

About the Collaborative Antarctic Science Scheme (CASS)

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.

Capacity in the 2019/20 field season

The 2019/20 field season will see the continuation of a large scale construction project at the Rothera Research Station, to build a new wharf in preparation for the RRS Sir David Attenborough. As a result, there will be very limited capacity to support additional science activities at Rothera, this includes CASS projects.

In order to maintain the usual capacity to support CASS during the 2019/20 field season, a unique opportunity has arisen for CASS projects to be supported aboard the HMS Protector, the Royal Navy’s ice patrol ship. HMS Protector completes several work packages over each Austral summer season travelling to various locations in and around the Antarctic Peninsula, this includes providing support to the British Antarctic Survey. The duration of each work package is typically around 28 days. There will be specific logistics and safety planning requirements which must be complied with ahead of any deployment. Applicants should also be aware 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. For more information on this opportunity please contact the Katie Gosling, Polar Funding Coordinator [email protected].


Submission deadline: 4 p.m. on 4th March 2019 (for applications for fieldwork support during the 2019 /20 field season)

Collaborative Antarctic Science Scheme form – application form for the 2019/2020 field season