Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Rothera ,
a small British village in Antarctica

Rothera Research Station is a British Antarctic Survey (BAS) base on the Antarctic Peninsula, located on a small rocky beach of  Adelaide Island.

Rothera also serves as the capital of the British Antarctic Territory, including Signy, Halley, King Edward Point and other smaller stations.

Rothera base, encircled in the red line

Adelaide Island lies approximately 1630 km south east of Punta Arenas in Chile. It's heavily glaciated with mountains of up to 2565 m height. The station is built on a promontory of rock at the southern extremity.

The station has a 900 m crushed rock runway, with an associated hangar and bulk fuel storage facility, and recently also a wharf for the discharge of cargo from supply ships.

Rothera is home to well-equipped biological laboratories and facilities for a wide range of research: the work disciplines represented on the station include marine and terrestrial biologists, meteorologists, electronics engineers, dive officer, boating officer, chef, doctor, vehicle and generator mechanics, electricians, plumbers, builders, field assistants, communications managers and of course a station management team.

The ID at the door of  Old Bransfield House

Location:  67° 34’ S,  68 ° 08’ W
Occupation: average 22, maximum 130.

Occupied since 25th October 1975

Since 1980, the station provides accommodation, a community service hall, electrical power generation, vehicle workshops, scientific offices and stores for food and travel equipment.
It's open throughout the year - a small British village in a ice-desert landscape far away from anywhere else.

Bedrooms are situated in Admiral's House and in Giants House (above), with communal wash rooms.

New Bransfield House, the larger building, provides dining, social and recreational facilities for the people living at Rothera. It also houses offices and labs for the physical scientists and at the north end is found the operations control tower.

Meals are taken communally in a central dining room. Lunch and dinner are prepared by the station's chefs.

The airfield's distinctive yellow control tower.

From inside, the view of an unfriendly antarctic landscape.

The aircraft hangar will accommodate the Dash 7 and Twin Otter aircrafts protecting them from the harshest weather.

A BAS 'Twin Otter' over Rothera.

At the southern end of the site you will find the Bonner Laboratory, the boat shed and the  new Wharf where ships can safely moor in ten metres of water for the transfer of cargo and personnel.

The Bonner Laboratory, opened in the summer 1996-97, has an incorporated dive facility for the study of marine and terrestrial biology.

The dive programme continues year round with divers accessing the water through holes cut in the sea ice during the winter. The Bonner Laboratory is equipped to an extremely high standard for biological research.

Ocean Nova moored at Rothera

The BAS ships visit Rothera at least twice each summer bringing passengers as well as cargo. Usually RRS James Clark Ross (the ‘JCR’) arrives in December to resupply the base, and RRS Ernest Shackleton (the ‘Shack’) visiting in March. Ship visits are particularly important as they are the way to receive essential supplies - food, fuel, scientific equipment, vehicles, spare parts for machinery, building materials...

BAS ship RRS James Clark Ross docks at the wharf to offload cargo and passengers.

There is always plenty of work to do on an Antarctic station. But they manage somehow to have a pleasant time, and even music sessions in Fuchs House music room or, weather helping, out in the blue ice, as in this rehearsal of 'Nunatak' for 'Live Earth' concert - Antarctica:


Winter in Rothera can be really long...

... under perpetual darkness and unbearably cold temperatures.

Lemaire Channel under the Midnight sun

and in Christmas Eve.