British Antarctic Survey

Cambridge, United Kingdom | C.1962

Photo Credit: Louise Walsh

The British Antarctic Survey (BAS) is the United Kingdom’s national Antarctic operation and has an active role in Antarctic science and exploration. It is part of the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and has over 400 staff operating five research stations.

In 1943, a small British expedition set out to establish bases in the Antarctic, with the dual purpose of military defense and scientific research. This was the beginning of Operation Tabarin, later known as the Falkland Islands Dependencies Survey (FIDS). It began with four stations, growing to 19 by 1962. At this time, FIDS was renamed British Antarctic Survey.

BAS operates two ships and five aircraft in support of its Antarctic program, each with research and supply capabilities. Vessels depart from the United Kingdom in September or October of each year, and return in the following May or June. Aircrafts are based at the Rothera base during the Antarctic summer.

A team of three BAS scientists were responsible for the discovery of the hole in the ozone layer over Antarctica in 1985. Their work was confirmed by satellite data, and was met with worldwide concern.

BAS addresses key global and regional issues. This involves joint research projects with over 40 UK universities and more than 120 national and international collaborations. A new state-of-the-art polar research vessel, named the RRS Sir David Attenborough, is expected to launch in the near future.

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