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Fieldwork opportunities – eligibility

Principal Investigators wishing to apply to NERC or other research funders to conduct research in Antarctica and the Arctic can find eligibility criteria for both individual applicants and research organisations can be found in Section C of the NERC Research Grants Handbook. Scientists wishing to carry out fieldwork in the Antarctic are required also to observe the following:

Antarctic Special Considerations

  • The research must comply with the provisions of the Antarctic Act (1994) regulations. Principal Investigators will be responsible for satisfying the requirements of the associated permitting regime.
  • The research must satisfy UK ethical standards relating to research. Where deemed appropriate, proposals will be assessed by an Ethics Review Committee, and will only be accepted if approved by that Committee.
  • As the timing of fieldwork in Antarctica is weather dependent, researchers will need to commit to flexibility in their planning, and in the availability of those who will be conducting the fieldwork.
  • Researchers funded by NERC and other Research Councils/funders  will only be allowed access to UK polar research stations and facilities after they have satisfactorily completed the pre-deployment training prescribed by BAS.
  • Individuals involved in fieldwork will have to undergo medical fitness screening.
  • Researchers must agree to conform to the command structure on polar research stations and ships.
  • Researchers must comply with UK legislation regarding Health and Safety, except where this is impractical or impossible, in which case BAS best practice must be followed.
  • Over-wintering will be allowed, although it will be necessary to verify that personalities are suitable for wintering.
  • All applicants should note that there is little domestic help on BAS research stations. All visitors are therefore required to assist with general duties.
  • All equipment must be shown to satisfy safety standards prior to shipping. Novel instrumentation must be tried and tested in the UK prior to shipping. Responsibility for the maintenance of equipment lies with the researcher.
  • The use of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS)a, though a beneficial and a useful tool in fieldwork, is potentially hazardous to people and to wildlife. The following is therefore required before consideration will be given to a request for the use of UAS in Antarctica:

– The pilot is required to have an appropriate level of experience and demonstrated competence;

– The UAS must be a suitably airworthy platform for the task it is to be used for;

– The use of UAS is to be included and reviewed at all planning and FCO permitting stages;

– The use of UAS is to follow all related BAS processes, rules and guidelines (these are available from BAS Operations Manager).

  • All infrastructure and logistic costs outside of the BAS current infrastructure will be charged for, e.g. modifications to BAS-operated aircraft or ships; also any incurred air-freight costs.
  • Research should acknowledge NERC funding and BAS logistic support in any publications resulting from the research.

a The term UAS includes drones, quadcopters, hexacopters, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and Remotely Piloted Aircraft and Systems (RPAS).

For advice on what to consider when applying to carry out fieldwork in the Arctic, please visit the Arctic Office website.