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Rothera Research Station

Rothera Research Station

Overview




Rothera research station is a British Antarctic Survey
British Antarctic Survey
The British Antarctic Survey is the United Kingdom's national Antarctic operation and has an active role in Antarctic affairs. BAS is part of the Natural Environment Research Council and has over 400 staff. It operates five research stations, two ships and five aircraft in and around Antarctica....

 (BAS) base on the Antarctic Peninsula
Antarctic Peninsula
The Antarctic Peninsula is the northernmost part of the mainland of Antarctica. It extends from a line between Cape Adams and a point on the mainland south of Eklund Islands....

, located at Rothera Point, Adelaide Island
Adelaide Island
Adelaide Island or Isla Adelaida or Isla Belgrano is a large, mainly ice-covered island, long and wide, lying at the north side of Marguerite Bay off the west coast of the Antarctic Peninsula. The island lies within the Argentine, British and Chilean Antarctic claims, at .Adelaide Island was...

. Rothera also serves as the capital of the British Overseas Territory, the British Antarctic Territory
British Antarctic Territory
The British Antarctic Territory is a sector of Antarctica claimed by the United Kingdom as one of its 14 British Overseas Territories. It comprises the region south of 60°S latitude and between longitudes and , forming a wedge shape that extends to the South Pole...

.

Rothera Station is the BAS logistics centre for the Antarctic
Antarctic
The Antarctic is the region around the Earth's South Pole, opposite the Arctic region around the North Pole. The Antarctic comprises the continent of Antarctica and the ice shelves, waters and island territories in the Southern Ocean situated south of the Antarctic Convergence...

 and home to well-equipped biological laboratories and facilities for a wide range of research.
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Rothera research station is a British Antarctic Survey
British Antarctic Survey
The British Antarctic Survey is the United Kingdom's national Antarctic operation and has an active role in Antarctic affairs. BAS is part of the Natural Environment Research Council and has over 400 staff. It operates five research stations, two ships and five aircraft in and around Antarctica....

 (BAS) base on the Antarctic Peninsula
Antarctic Peninsula
The Antarctic Peninsula is the northernmost part of the mainland of Antarctica. It extends from a line between Cape Adams and a point on the mainland south of Eklund Islands....

, located at Rothera Point, Adelaide Island
Adelaide Island
Adelaide Island or Isla Adelaida or Isla Belgrano is a large, mainly ice-covered island, long and wide, lying at the north side of Marguerite Bay off the west coast of the Antarctic Peninsula. The island lies within the Argentine, British and Chilean Antarctic claims, at .Adelaide Island was...

. Rothera also serves as the capital of the British Overseas Territory, the British Antarctic Territory
British Antarctic Territory
The British Antarctic Territory is a sector of Antarctica claimed by the United Kingdom as one of its 14 British Overseas Territories. It comprises the region south of 60°S latitude and between longitudes and , forming a wedge shape that extends to the South Pole...

.

Rothera Station is the BAS logistics centre for the Antarctic
Antarctic
The Antarctic is the region around the Earth's South Pole, opposite the Arctic region around the North Pole. The Antarctic comprises the continent of Antarctica and the ice shelves, waters and island territories in the Southern Ocean situated south of the Antarctic Convergence...

 and home to well-equipped biological laboratories and facilities for a wide range of research. The station is situated on a rock and raised beach promontory at the southern extremity of Wormald Ice Piedmont, south-eastern Adelaide Island. The station has a 900 m (2,950 ft) crushed rock runway, with an associated hangar and bulk fuel storage facility, and a wharf for the discharge of cargo from supply ships. There is a transitory summer population of scientists and support staff who reach Rothera either by ship or through use of an intercontinental Dash-7 aircraft flying from the Falkland Islands
Falkland Islands
The Falkland Islands are an archipelago in the South Atlantic Ocean, located about from the coast of mainland South America. The archipelago consists of East Falkland, West Falkland and 776 lesser islands. The capital, Stanley, is on East Falkland...

.

History and current activities


Rothera station was established in 1975 to replace Adelaide station (1961-1977) where the skiway had deteriorated. From its inception until the 1991-92 summer season BAS Twin Otter aircraft used the skiway 300 m (about 1000 ft) above the station on Wormald Ice Piedmont. With the commissioning of the gravel runway and hangar in 1991-92 air operations became more reliable and access to Rothera was greatly improved through a direct airlink from the Falkland Islands. The Twin Otters mainly fly south of Rothera, via a network of fuel depots, most of which are manned. Heading south of Rothera, the first stop would be Fossil Bluff
Fossil Bluff
Fossil Bluff is a British Antarctic Survey forward operating station. The bluff is a collection of buildings and facilities, at the centre of which lies the hut....

, then Sky Blu
Sky Blu
Sky Blu is a forward operating station for the British Antarctic Survey in southern Palmer Land, Antarctica. It is in an area of Blue Ice...

. The Dash 7 will make approximately 20 flights a season to Stanley during the summer, bringing in scientists, support staff, food and equipment. When not tasked for these flights, the Dash can fly to Sky Blu in one hop, landing on the Blue Ice runway, significantly enhancing the range of the Twin Otters by depoting fuel and equipment in much larger quantities.

The opening of the Bonner Laboratory in 1996-97 marked the start of new activities in biological sciences in the Antarctic Peninsula. These included scuba diving
Scuba diving
Scuba diving is a form of underwater diving in which a diver uses a scuba set to breathe underwater....

 and experiments conducted in the Bonner Laboratory throughout the year. The first Bonner Lab burned down in the winter of 2001 after an electrical fault; it was rebuilt and opened in December 2003.

Meteorological research using satellite data intercepted at the Rothera ground station also continues year round.

Fieldwork is concentrated in the summer months from November until March. Once in the field, the parties travel using skidoos and sledges for up to four months, and, being in daily HF
High frequency
High frequency radio frequencies are between 3 and 30 MHz. Also known as the decameter band or decameter wave as the wavelengths range from one to ten decameters . Frequencies immediately below HF are denoted Medium-frequency , and the next higher frequencies are known as Very high frequency...

 radio communication with Rothera, they can be resupplied when necessary by air.

The station is open throughout the year with a maximum population of 130 in the summer and an average winter population of 22.

Rocket science


In 1998, 26 sounding rockets of "Viper"-type were launched from Rothera Research Station. They reached altitudes of 100 kilometres (over 60 mi).

Buildings at Rothera


Rothera has evolved from a small base (in its first winter it housed only four people) to the large complex it is today. As is the case everywhere in Antarctica, the buildings need constant repair, and eventual renewal, as the harsh environment takes its toll. Although some of the buildings are very new, some of the older ones still survive, often having undergone many different uses.

Bransfield House


This was re-built from the original in 1985 / 86, using parts of the old building. The building is the hub of the base, as it has the main communal areas (dining room, bar, library and TV rooms). It also has the bulk of the non-science offices, computer rooms, communication facilities, meteorological facilities, dried food storage and kitchen.

Bransfield also has several four person pit rooms (bunk rooms) which were the main accommodation for the base until 2001 when Admirals House was opened (see below). The building was named after the BAS ship the RRS Bransfield
RRS Bransfield
RRS Bransfield was an ice-strengthened cargo vessel, purpose-built for the British Antarctic Survey .-History:RRS Bransfield was designed by consultants Graham & Woolnaugh of Liverpool for NERC, and built by Robb Caledon Shipbuilders Ltd, Leith...

.

There is a link corridor to the Garage, and on one end is the Operations Tower, used during flight operations. Bransfield also produces all the freshwater for the base using a reverse osmosis
Reverse osmosis
Reverse osmosis is a membrane technical filtration method that removes many types of large molecules and ions from solutions by applying pressure to the solution when it is on one side of a selective membrane. The result is that the solute is retained on the pressurized side of the membrane and...

 plant. This was installed to replace old melt tanks (used to melt snow).

A new Bransfield house is being built some 300 metres (about 1000 ft) away.
Although climate conditions make construction slow and difficult, completion of the new Bransfield house is predicted to be in the spring of 2010.

Admirals House


Admirals House was built over two seasons (1999/2000 and 2000/2001). It is a prefabricated unit from Top Housing AB of Sweden
Sweden
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

. The building has 44 two-person rooms, each with a shower and toilet facility. The building has washing facilities and heated boot rooms. It is named after a dog team that operated out of Rothera.

Bonner Lab


The Bonner Lab has been built twice, the first time in 1996 - 1997. A fire in winter 2001, caused by an electrical fault, destroyed the building (though no one was hurt). The Lab was then re-built in the 2002 – 2003 seasons and re-opened in the 2003-2004 season.

The Bonner Lab is a state-of-the-art facility for terrestrial and marine biology
Biology
Biology is a natural science concerned with the study of life and living organisms, including their structure, function, growth, origin, evolution, distribution, and taxonomy. Biology is a vast subject containing many subdivisions, topics, and disciplines...

. The Dive
Scuba set
A scuba set is an independent breathing set that provides a scuba diver with the breathing gas necessary to breathe underwater during scuba diving. It is much used for sport diving and some sorts of work diving....

 Facility (with decompression chamber, warming bath, and compressors) keeps diving safely going throughout the year. There are three dry labs, one wet lab, aquarium
Aquarium
An aquarium is a vivarium consisting of at least one transparent side in which water-dwelling plants or animals are kept. Fishkeepers use aquaria to keep fish, invertebrates, amphibians, marine mammals, turtles, and aquatic plants...

, library
Library
In a traditional sense, a library is a large collection of books, and can refer to the place in which the collection is housed. Today, the term can refer to any collection, including digital sources, resources, and services...

, microscope
Microscope
A microscope is an instrument used to see objects that are too small for the naked eye. The science of investigating small objects using such an instrument is called microscopy...

 room and a small kitchen. During the winter this large facility is left in the hands of the Dive Officer, a Terrestrial Biologist, and two Marine Biologists, although this can vary depending on the projects underway at the time. In the summer, as many as 30 science staff can occupy the building, and upwards of 10 divers can be using the facility.

The Lab was named after W N Bonner, Head of Biological Science at BAS between 1953 and 1986, and Deputy Director of BAS from 1986 to 1988. The original lab was built in response to the base at Signy being down scaled to a summer only facility.

Fuchs House


Also known as the Sledge Store, or Phase IV. The building was erected in 1978/79, and originally housed the science offices, cold room and travel store. It is now used mainly as the Travel Store or Sledge Store. The huge amount of mountaineering or camping equipment for use in Antarctica is maintained and stored here. The Cold Store remains, with four large freezers storing all the base's frozen food. It was named after Sir Vivian Fuchs
Vivian Fuchs
Sir Vivian Ernest Fuchs FRS was an English explorer whose expeditionary team completed the first overland crossing of Antarctica in 1958.- Biography :...

, BAS Director from 1958 to 1973.

Giants House


Erected in 1996/97 as transit accommodation, it contains eight rooms of four beds, and a toilet / shower facility. The building is only used in summer.

Generator Shed, Chippy Shop, and Bingham


Bingham House was originally at Adelaide Island Base, and is as such the oldest building on site. It was pulled across from Base T in the winter of 1977. It was used as accommodation, but is now used as a building store. Bingham was named after E W Bingham, leader of FIDS 1945 to 1947 and FIDS Surgeon Commander.

Next door is the Chippy Shop, which was the original Rothera Base, being built in the 1976 / 1977 season. This building housed the base kitchen and eating facilities until the original Bransfield was built some 4 years later. As suggested by its name it is now the Carpenter
Carpenter
A carpenter is a skilled craftsperson who works with timber to construct, install and maintain buildings, furniture, and other objects. The work, known as carpentry, may involve manual labor and work outdoors....

s workshop, and also houses the electricians store and workshop.

The Generator Shed houses three Cummins generators and has its own stores and workshop facilities.

The Span and Boat Shed


The Span and Boat Shed were built at approximately the same time using similar techniques (interlocking steel archways on a concrete base), and are located at either end of site.

The Span is a storage facility for vehicles, equipment and waste. Every so often in summer Andy E. and Riet VdV can be found in there doing a fantastic job as Base Assistants. It is called the span as it was manufactured by the Miracle-Span company which specialises in these buildings.

The Boat Shed is used to store, maintain and operate the boats for travel to the local islands and diving (all RIBs of various size). It is situated next to the Biscoe Wharf (named after the RRS John Biscoe). There is a slip (only usable in summer) and a hydraulic crane to lift the boats in and out of the water.

Sewage Treatment Plant (STP) and Hangar


The STP was built in summer 2002/2003. The sewage is treated using bacteria, which leave a peat like substance that is dry enough, and compact enough to remove from Antarctica.

The Hangar was built at the same time as the runway and is big enough for three Twin Otters and the Dash 7.

Refuges and other buildings


There is a refuge hut on Lagoon. This was built out of the materials left over from the original Bransfield House at Rothera. The hut has a stove, fuel, food and four bunks. There is also spare dry clothing, bedding and a pyramid tent. Boat teams who get caught out by bad weather or sea ice can use the refuge. It is often used during the summer months as a place for BAS staff to go and relax.

There is an Apple hut on the Leonie Island, which was provided by the Dutch Antarctic Division during a joint working programme. There was also a Melon Hut on Lagoon for the same purpose, but this has now been moved to Anchorage Island.

Cultural events


Nunatak
Nunatak (band)
Nunatak is the British Antarctic Survey’s Rothera Research Station’s house band. The five person indie rock band is part of a science team investigating climate change and evolutionary biology on the Antarctic Peninsula...

 is the BAS’s house band. The five person indie
Indie rock
Indie rock is a genre of alternative rock that originated in the United Kingdom and the United States in the 1980s. Indie rock is extremely diverse, with sub-genres that include lo-fi, post-rock, math rock, indie pop, dream pop, noise rock, space rock, sadcore, riot grrrl and emo, among others...

 rock band
Rock Band
Rock Band is a music video game developed by Harmonix Music Systems, published by MTV Games and Electronic Arts. It is the first title in the Rock Band series. The PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 versions were released in the United States on November 20, 2007, while the PlayStation 2 version was...

 is part of a science team investigating climate change
Climate change
Climate change is a significant and lasting change in the statistical distribution of weather patterns over periods ranging from decades to millions of years. It may be a change in average weather conditions or the distribution of events around that average...

 and evolutionary biology on the Antarctic Peninsula
Antarctic Peninsula
The Antarctic Peninsula is the northernmost part of the mainland of Antarctica. It extends from a line between Cape Adams and a point on the mainland south of Eklund Islands....

. They are chiefly known for their participation in Live Earth
Live Earth
-Background:Founded by Emmy-winning producer Kevin Wall, in partnership with former U.S. Vice President Al Gore, Live Earth was built upon the belief that entertainment has the power to transcend social and cultural barriers to move the world community to action...

 in 2007, where they were the only band to play in the event's Antarctica concert
Live Earth concert, Antarctica
The Live Earth concert in Antarctica was held at Rothera Research Station, one in a series of Live Earth concerts that took place on July 7, 2007, in all seven continents. The band Nunatak performed as the lone act...

.

Morris dancing has occurred on occasion.

External links