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Touch down for Broughton’s polar field station

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Hugh Broughton Architects’ £25.8 million Antarctic Research Station becomes fully operational this month

Designed with engineers AECOM, the competition-winning Halley VI scheme replaces the British Antarctic Survey’s 20-year old Halley V facility.

It is the sixth to be built on the floating Brunt Ice Shelf. The first station was built in 1957 establishing the region as an important centre for research into the Earth’s magnetic field and the near-space atmosphere.

In 1985 the research facility discovered the hole in the ozone layer.

Announcing the opening, UK minister for universities and science, David Willetts said: ‘The new Halley Research Station is a triumph of British design, innovation and engineering.

‘The UK’s world-class polar science community now has a unique, cutting edge suite of laboratories on the ice. The legacy of Captain Scott, together with our strong track record of scientific discovery in Antarctica, is set to continue in this excellent new facility.’

Broughton’s laboratory and living accommodation structure raises above the annual snowfall and can be relocated to avoid being stranded on an iceberg as the floating ice shelf moves towards the sea.

The facility was built during four Antarctic summers with each construction session lasting just nine weeks.

British Antarctic Survey interim director Alan Rodger said: ‘The long-term research investigations carried out at Halley since the 1950s have led to deeper understanding of our world. In half a century, society has been alerted to our changing climate, about the possibility that melting ice in the Polar Regions will increase sea-level rise, and that human activity can have an impact on the natural environment.

‘The Polar Regions are the Earth’s early warning system – it is here that the first signs of global change are observed. This is the first summer field season for Halley and already, our scientists there are working collaboratively with colleagues from USA including NASA on studies that will gain new knowledge about how our world works. I am proud and grateful that our Government and the public recognise the importance of investing in this new research facility.”

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