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British Antarctic Survey

The British Antarctic Survey (BAS) is an institute of the Natural Environment Research Council, and has, for the last fifty years, undertaken the majority of Britain's scientific research on and around the Antarctic continent. It now shares that continent with scientists from around thirty countries.

BAS employs over 400 staff, and supports three stations in the Antarctic, at Rothera, Halley and Signy, and two stations on South Georgia, at King Edward Point and Bird Island. The Antarctic operations and science programmes are executed and managed from Cambridge, and rely on a wide-ranging team of professional staff.

Ice-strengthened ships sustain the Antarctic operations. RRS James Clark Ross has advanced facilities for oceanographic research. RRS Ernest Shackleton is primarily a logistics ship used for the resupply of stations. The Royal Navy's Ice Patrol Vessel HMS Endurance has helicopters and provides valuable logistic support. Four Twin Otter aircraft fitted with wheels and skis are operated from Rothera and Halley, while a wheels-only Dash-7 aircraft provides the inter-continental air-link from Rothera to the Falkland Islands, and flies inland to blue ice runways.

The science budget for 2000-2001 was agreed at £29.8 million. Of this, the core strategic science programme was budgeted at £6.5 million and supporting the science, the infrastructure was budgeted at £21.0 million. The latter figure includes £18.0 million expenditure on ships, aircraft and research stations. The high costs involved highlight the challenges BAS faces in operating within a harsh and remote environment.

Tragedy struck the survey on 22 July 2003, with the death of Kirsty Margot Brown, a 28 year-old marine biologist, who was attacked without warning by a leopard seal while she was snorkelling at her study site in the bay adjacent to Rothera Station.

The Antarctic explorer Sir Vivian Fuchs was director of BAS from 1958 to 1973.

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