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Delivering Polar Science for Planet Earth

Delivering PSPE

Science delivery

To address questions of global scientific importance, PSPE will collect new data from land, ice, sea and air using state-of-the-art drilling, satellite, surveying, monitoring, fieldwork and laboratory technology. These will be used to develop new, and enhance existing, computer models. New technologies will be pioneered.

RRS Ernest Shackleton steams north through a freezing sea after resupplying Halley Research Station on the Brunt Ice Shelf, Antarctica.
RRS Ernest Shackleton steams north through a freezing sea after resupplying Halley Research Station on the Brunt Ice Shelf, Antarctica.

Long-term monitoring and survey

Long-term, quality-controlled and uninterrupted data records are essential to determine both long-term trends and variability in the Earth System. PSPE will maintain existing long-term datasets and build on BAS’s strong tradition of making such observations.

Data collection and curation

Data are collected from our research stations, aircraft, ships and field parties, and from autonomous vehicles and instrument platforms. Satellite data is increasingly important for polar science, providing a broad context for more detailed measurements. BAS makes its data available to national and international scientists, as well as operational organisations (e.g. the UK Met Office) in near-real time, together with archiving data and samples.

National capability

BAS, part of the UK Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), operates five research stations in and around Antarctica (four year-round and one summer-only), has five aircraft and two ice-strengthened ships, RRS James Clark Ross and RRS Ernest Shackleton. BAS ships and aircraft are equipped with sophisticated technology and specialist equipment, enabling them to carry out scientific research as well as logistical operations. Each year BAS sends more than 350 staff, collaborators, contractors and visitors to Antarctica to work on science projects at sea, on research stations or in the field.


BAS scientists alone cannot answer all of the important polar science questions. Collaborations with other NERC research centres, the wider UK environmental science community and international centres of excellence give us a wider perspective. Co-ordination of field activities with international partners helps maximise the scientific return.


BAS supports fully the sharing and flow of knowledge, people, skills and expertise both nationally and internationally. PSPE exploits commercialisation opportunities for the wider benefit of the economy and provides evidence to support Government policy-making.

Science in society

BAS is committed to explaining its science and operations to as wide an audience as possible. Media relations, publications, events, exhibitions, educational resources, the Internet and a public information service are BAS’s main means of achieving engagement with people of all ages and from all sectors of society.


The success of PSPE depends on the skills, quality, commitment and attitude of everyone who works for BAS. BAS aspires to develop its staff continuously and promote adaptability, flexibility and inter-disciplinary teamwork. BAS has been accredited with the industry-standard Investors in People (IiP) award. Despite working in some of the world’s most challenging areas, BAS delivers its science using the best health and safety practice.

Protecting the Environment

BAS operates in the world’s last great wilderness areas. To preserve such an exceptional environment it is crucial to measure, understand and minimise the effects of our presence. BAS is committed to delivering PSPE with the minimum environmental impact through the use of an Environmental Management System (certified to ISO 14001 standard). All of our activities continue to comply with the requirements of the Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty.