£100 million partnership to upgrade antarctic research facilities

The investment will enable British scientists to remain at the forefront of science and research.

The British Antarctic Survey has announced a £100 million deal to upgrade the Rothera Research Station, ensuring the UK remains a world leader in science and polar-based innovation.

The new facility will become home to the RRS Sir David Attenborough that will transform UK polar research enabling more ambitious expeditions to untapped areas of the Antarctic and the Arctic.

The investment will enable British scientists to remain at the forefront of science and research, helping to improve our understanding of the world we live in and the impact of climate change.

Universities and Science Minister Jo Johnson said:

“Key to the long-term success of science and innovation in the UK is ensuring our world-class research sector has the tools it needs to thrive on a global stage.

“The government’s £200m investment on specialist research ships including RRS Sir David Attenborough underlines our commitment to this burgeoning sector and our upcoming industrial strategy will go even further, placing science and innovation at its absolute core.”

The partnership was commissioned by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) whose CEO Professor Duncan Wingham said:

“The Polar Regions, although geographically remote, are of equal importance in our drive to understand how the Earth is changing. NERC science in Antarctica plays an important role in meeting this challenge.

“Working with BAM and design partner SWECO, on this long term approach to modernising our infrastructure in the Antarctic, we will jointly foster and further build the UK’s high level of expertise, experience and good practices for working in challenging design and construction environments.”

The UK Government is also supporting the Polar Explorer Programme - a £1m educational programme that aims to inspire the next generation of scientists, engineers and citizens by engaging young people with the RRS Sir David Attenborough and the science it will support. The Programme aims to raise scientific awareness and literacy in young people and will include resources based on the missions of the state-of-the-art robotic subsea vehicle named Boaty McBoatface.

The UK’s world-class research and science sector is a priority for the Government, and will play a key role as part of our upcoming industrial strategy. An extra £2 billion per year for research and innovation will be invested by 2020/21 supporting the sector and helping to boost the UK economy.