Science strategy

Polar Science for Planet Earth

The Polar Regions may be at the ends of the Earth but what happens there affects us all. Understanding how our planet works, and in particular how it is responding to ever-increasing human pressures, is one of science’s greatest challenges.

Science in Antarctica

For over a century Britain has been at the forefront of exploration and scientific research in Antarctica. The scientific advances that we made over recent decades have changed humankind’s understanding of planet Earth. The UK’s vibrant research community now plays a leading role in the international efforts to investigate and monitor environmental change in Antarctica and the Southern Ocean.


Winter image of the Halley VI Research Station on the Brunt Ice Shelf in Antarctica with aurora
Winter image of the Halley VI Research Station on the Brunt Ice Shelf in Antarctica with aurora

Science in the Arctic

The Arctic environment is undergoing rapid change which has the potential to impact the UK and the rest of the world, yet it is still poorly understood. British Antarctic Survey research aims to determine what drives the unprecedented changes seen in the Arctic, and identify their possible future consequences.

Our strategic approach

Our scientific research programme, Polar Science for Planet Earth, sets the strategic direction for British Antarctic Survey, demonstrates our commitment to partnership and promotes our Vision and Mission to deliver excellence, impact and leadership in science.

Our ambition is to address scientific questions that affect the entire planet and the lives of individuals. The answers to these questions will deliver real benefits to society and underpin national and international policies. Our work reflects, and takes forward, NERC’s aspirations that UK environmental science should assist us in:

  • benefiting responsibly from natural resources
  • developing resilience to environmental hazards
  • supporting management of environmental change
  • continuing to answer fundamental questions about how the Earth System works

Our research strategy, Polar Science for Planet Earth, focuses on five key themes of global significance. Each theme crosses traditional disciplinary boundaries and requires a long-term strategic approach, that exploits the knowledge and expertise within our science teams. Each theme has a particular relevance or foundation in the polar regions but also has significance for the entire planet and the people living on it.

The themes deliberately align with NERC’s strategy stated in the Business of the Environment 2013, the NERC Delivery Plan 2019 and UKRI’s Delivery Plan 2019.

Multidisciplinary research

Our multidisciplinary science teams develop and deliver a portfolio of research projects designed to address major scientific and societal issues that will lead to responsible environmental management and produce lasting benefits for the UK economy.

Collaborative research across scientific disciplines help find answers to big science questions

BAS marine scientists Judith Dickson and Simon Morley (Snr Scientist) working in the dry lab at King Edward Point Research Station, South Georgia.

Our strategy for creating high quality research outcomes includes:

  • The design and delivery of cutting edge and innovative research projects that are relevant to the needs of society and the economy
  • Maintaining a long-term commitment to science expertise, innovation and technology development
  • Developing our teams of highly-skilled scientists
  • Working collaboratively with the best UK and international groups to develop research collaborations at the forefront of polar science
  • Creating access for researchers to the high-quality research facilities in our offices and laboratories in Cambridge, in the Antarctic, the Arctic, and onboard our ship and aircraft
  • Listening to stakeholders and developing research solutions that meet their needs
  • Growing the next generation of researchers by providing opportunities for research training and by sharing our expertise and experience.

Applying our science to global challenges

British Antarctic Survey (BAS) has built a reputation as one of the world’s leading polar research organisations – but today our science is increasingly called upon to address challenges away from the Poles.

We work closely with other research groups, governments, international development organisations, universities and businesses all over the world to collect and interpret crucial scientific data that shapes policy, protects the environment and ultimately improves people’s lives.  Read more here