Gaining unique insight into operating in the Antarctic

16 March 2017
On location with British Antarctic Survey (BAS) scientists and research station personnel, gives insight to their daily lives in the Antarctic and informs new building designs.

Austral summer’s activities

Whether the temperature is a wintery low of -60oC or a positively balmy 5oC on the warmest of the Austral summer days, BAS scientists are at work delivering frontier science that affects us all. Alongside are Ramboll engineers and consultants supporting their work by advising how to improve and modernise Antarctic research stations and infrastructure. These projects are part of the preparation works for the new ship RRS Sir David Attenborough, which will be ready for operation in 2019.

Returned from their voyages, Ramboll personnel Kate Bunting and Jenny Symons visited three research stations; King Edward Point, Signy and Bird Island. Kate comments: “During the visits to the research stations we have undertaken a range of technical studies. It has also been an invaluable exercise to witness first-hand the daily lives of operational personnel and scientists. It has provided a real insight into living and working in the Antarctic, it is like nowhere else on earth where forward planning is vital for survival and community is essential to wellbeing”.

Signy Island visit

Ramboll engineering geologist, Jenny Symons, visited Signy and was directly involved with the recommissioning of the station following its closure over the winter. Signy is the only BAS station that routinely closes down for winter. Ramboll’s Jenny Symons visited the station to gather information on the ground conditions. More about Jenny's trip.

Bird Island redevelopment and King Edward Point options appraisal

Bird Island will be the first of the BAS stations to have new buildings built as part of the modernisation. Kate Bunting also visited King Edward Point, a South Georgia research station where BAS scientists are also based. Kate undertook site surveys for the redevelopment preparations at Bird Island and a survey of the existing wharf structure at King Edward Point, which is undergoing options appraisal, she also assessed current cargo management practices to review potential operational efficiencies. More about Kate's trip.

Liveability in the Antarctic

As well as gathering technical data on their site visits to Antarctic, Jenny Symons and Kate Bunting were also observing daily operation, “it’s not just about designing functional buildings, we are also interested in behaviours. We have carried out a liveability study to understand daily life at these small stations. Community is so important here, because the teams are so isolated. We have witnessed base personnel and scientists’ daily activities, which will inform the redevelopments. For example there are contrasting needs between those who spend most of their days outside and those who spend most time inside, and the proximity of living and working quarters needs careful planning. This will help base personnel and scientists maintain a clear distinction between the working day and their own time. Rooms which have a clear purpose are also important; we’ve found that many rooms are multifunctional. This lack of distinction prevents the space being used as intended” comments Kate.


Project details

Ramboll. RRS Sir David Attenborough. Image courtesy of British Antarctic Survey

British Antarctic Survey

Appointed by NERC as Technical Advisors to BAS (British Antarctic Survey), Ramboll is providing specialist engineering and consultancy services for seven years. Delivering a host of projects within the Antarctic Infrastructure Modernisation Programme (AIMP), BAS and its Technical Advisors (including NORR Architects and Turner & Townsend) are preparing for one of the world’s most advanced Polar research ships - the RRS Sir David Attenborough.

Ramboll. Rothera Research Station Wharf. British Antarctic Survey

British Antarctic Survey - Rothera Research Station

The Antarctic Infrastructure Modernisation programme (AIMP) to support world-class science through an upgrade of British Antarctic Survey (BAS) research stations and infrastructure includes preparations for one of the world’s most advanced Polar research ships - the RRS Sir David Attenborough. 


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