Rothera Station is the BAS logistics centre for the Antarctic 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 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. The station was made world-famous in 2007 because of its involvement in the Live Earth concert series.
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 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, then Sky Blu. 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 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 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.
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.
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 plant. This was installed to replace old melt tanks (used to melt snow).
A new Bransfield house is being built some 300 metres away.
The Bonner Lab is a state of the art facility for terrestrial and marine biology. The Dive Facility (with decompression chamber, warming bath, and compressors) keeps diving safely going throughout the year. There are three dry labs, one wet lab, aquarium, library, microscope 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.
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 Carpenters 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 is a storage facility for vehicles, equipment and waste. 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.
The Hangar was built at the same time as the runway and is big enough for all four Twin Otters and the Dash 7.
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.
Survey to overcome fire at ice lab. (Scientific Research).(rebuilding the laboratory at Rothera Station, Antarctica)(Brief Article)
Dec 01, 2001; The British Antarctic Survey, which is responsible for the majority of the government's research in Antarctica, is to rebuild its...