As part of an international collaboration between British Antarctic Survey (BAS) and the Netherlands Polar Programme (NPP), three new containerised laboratories arrived at Rothera Research Station in Antarctica earlier this week, according to a news story posted yesterday on the BAS website: http://www.antarctica.ac.uk.
The three containers arrived on board the RRS Ernest Shackleton, BAS’s research vessel used for the resupply of scientific stations in the Antarctic.
Rothera Research Station, located at Rothera Point, Adelaide Island on the Antarctic Peninsula, is BAS’s logistics centre for Antarctica and home to laboratories and facilities for a wide range of scientific research.
The collaboration, which involves BAS building and managing the new Gerritsz Laboratory on behalf of the NPP, paves the way for more integrated and enhanced working between both countries.
According to the NPP website (www.nwo.nl) the Dutch-British Antarctic collaboration allows The Netherlands to run a modern laboratory in Antarctica in a very cost-effective and efficient way.
The four laboratories have been built in sea containers and on Antarctica they will be attached to a joint ‘docking station’.
The laboratory on Rothera will be called the Gerritsz Laboratory and the four separate modules bear the names Faith, Hope, Love and Glad Tidings.
The laboratory is almost complete and the science facility building is finished.
Three of the four containerised laboratories that slot into the building are now at Rothera and the final containerised laboratory is to be delivered later in the year.
From mid November the science facility will be up and running for when the first researchers arrive from The Netherlands to start their studies into marine biology and oceanography.
The laboratories are named after a convoy of ships that left Rotterdam in 1598 in search of a trade route via the tip of South America to Asia.
The ships were called Faith, Hope, Love, Glad Tidings and Loyalty.
When in the area of the Magellan Straits the convoy was driven apart under severe weather conditions.
One ship, the Glad Tidings under Dirck Gerritsz, was blown far south.
At 64° South, Gerritsz claims he saw a ‘very high mountainous country, full of snow, like the country of Norway’ which could be the first registered sighting of Antarctica.
BAS Project Manager David Wattam said, “I am delighted that the building process of the Gerritsz Laboratory has gone so smoothly and kept to schedule. The new laboratory is an exciting addition to station infrastructure, will complement existing facilities and provides a state of the art platform to enhance collaboration between British and Dutch scientists.”
Up until now Dutch researchers had depended upon the facilities of other countries with a base on Antarctica when they wanted to do research.
Nick Tozer – Buenos Aires