British Antarctic Survey | EMBRC

British Antarctic Survey


The UK  presence in the Antarctic originated  in 1943 through the secret military expedition Operation Tabarin, with the first base established at Port Lockroy in Antarctica. After the second world war, the management transferred to the Foreign Office and the organization name was changed to the Falklands Islands Dependency Survey before moving to Cambridge in 1962 and being renamed the British Antarctic Survey (BAS).

Mission and research:

The British Antarctic Survey, an institute of the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), delivers and enables world-leading interdisciplinary research in the polar regions. Its skilled science and support staff based in Cambridge, Antarctica and the Arctic, work together to deliver research that uses the polar regions to advance the understanding of the Earth as a sustainable planet. Through its extensive logistic capability and know-how, BAS facilitates access for the British and international science community to the UK polar research operation. Numerous national and international collaborations, combined with an excellent infrastructure help sustain a world leading position for the UK in Antarctic affairs.

Marine facilities:

Aquarium and labs at Cambridge headquarters and aquarium and labs at Rothera Research Station in Antarctica.


Over 30 laboratories in Cambridge, on the ships and at the stations in Antarctica covering the breadth of science disciplines listed above.


All specimens are diver collected, usually down to depths of 25 meters. A dive team operates year-round in Antarctica for the collection of specimens, water sampling and biodiversity monitoring. Access year-round to the terrestrial environment local to Rothera research station, including adjacent islands (weather permitting). Marine and terrestrial specimens are returned to the UK each year in the spring and can be maintained long-term in Cambridge. Links to labs both in Rothera and Cambridge for manipulation experiments at 0°C and above, plus molecular work.

Main marine models:

Work is mainly conducted on marine invertebrates such as clam Laternula elliptica, limpet Nacella concinna, sea urchin Sterechinus neumayeri, sea star Odontaster validus, brachiopod Liothyrella uva, crustacean Paraceradocus mersii and brittlestar Ophionous victoria.

Special partnerships:

Member of SCAR (Scientific Committee for Antarctic Research) and CCAMLR (Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources).

Research topics: 

1. Ecosystems

2. Ice sheets

3. Oceans

4. Environmental change and evolution

5. Climate

6. Chemistry and past climate