Falkland Islands remain gateway to Antarctica for British Antarctic Survey | Polarjournal
The British Antarctic Survey will continue to conduct all activities via the Falkland Islands in the upcoming Antarctic season. Foto: Julia Hager

This year’s Antarctic research season is fast approaching and the British Antarctic Survey recently announced that, after a successful past season, it will once again launch its activities exclusively from the Falkland Islands this year.

The usual logistics routes of the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) via South America cannot yet be used as usual due to the pandemic. Therefore, as was the case last year, the Falkland Islands will again serve as the sole gateway for important and exciting projects in Antarctica. Thus the Falkland Islands Government and BAS strengthened their strategic relationship. Soon the BAS aircraft and their crews will arrive to supply the Antarctic research stations with personnel, equipment and materials.

“We are delighted to have the Falkland Islands as our Antarctic destination for our 2021/22 summer season. We have a long history with the Falkland Islands and are pleased to have been able to deepen the relationship to ensure we can continue our important scientific research in Antarctica. I would like to thank the Falkland Islands Government for their support and assistance with the Covid 19 protocols to ensure everyone’s safety during the ongoing pandemic,” says Professor Dame Jane Francis FRS, Director of the British Antarctic Survey.

Construction work on the new “Discovery Building” at the British Rothera station will continue in the coming months. It should offer more space for research and leisure. Graphic: British Antarctic Survey

Andy Keeling, Chief Executive of the Falkland Islands Government, added: “We are delighted to be able to support BAS again this summer with its science and operations programme. Its work is vital, particularly when it comes to understanding the impacts of climate change, and that’s why it’s so important that we support this research. Their work will help to describe the true nature of the challenges facing the environment and provide important data and evidence on the global benefits. Having worked closely with us over the past year, BAS has very well-developed plans to protect both its employees and local communities from Covid-19.”

In addition to numerous research activities, the upcoming field season will also focus on the continuation of a major construction project at Rothera Station as part of the infrastructure modernization program. After completing precast concrete foundations, the floor slab, rock anchors and supports of the new “Discovery Building” as well as the drainage and perimeter wall last season, the construction team will complete the erection of the exterior structure in December. The new two-story, 4,500-square-foot building features preparation areas for field expeditions, offices, a medical center, recreational spaces (music room and climbing wall), and scientific workshops. In addition, the new building will be equipped with the largest snow and wind deflector in Antarctica to minimize the time required to remove snow accumulations around the building.

The RRS Sir David Attenborough departs in a few weeks for its first Antarctic research season. Photo: Captain Will Whatley

The new polar research platform of the British, the icebreaker RRS Sir David Attenborough, will set sail from the Falkland Islands to Antarctica for the first time next season with researchers and material on board, following the sale or return of the ships RRS James Clark Ross and RRS Ernest Shackleton. However, before she sets off south, the public will get the chance to experience the new ship up close in London or online from anywhere in the world at the end of October(https://www.bas.ac.uk/event/iceworldsgreenwich/).

Covid security measures must continue to be implemented. And so BAS staff will complete a quarantine, as well as any necessary tests, before travelling to Antarctica and South Georgia.

Julia Hager, PolarJournal

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