Rothera Research Station

Antarctic Peninsula

The UK’s Rothera, built in 1975, occupies a small peninsula on Adelaide’s southeast coast. A 900m gravel airstrip and hangar were added in 1990–91, making Rothera a regional logistics center for British Antarctic operations using Twin Otter aircraft. The station is also resupplied by ships using the 60m Biscoe Wharf built in 1990–91. Rothera accommodates up to 130 people in the summer and an average of 21 in winter.

The station takes its name from Rothera Point, itself named for John Rothera, a surveyor with the British program in the 1950s.

Rothera’s main building, Bransfield House, includes the station dining room, bar, library, offices, labs and an elevated ‘operations control tower.’

The last sledge dog teams at Rothera are commemorated in the two dormitories. Admirals House, opened in 2001, has en suite rooms for two people, while Giants House, opened in 1997, has rooms for four people with communal bathrooms.

Bonner Laboratory, named for eminent polar biologist Nigel Bonner and completed in 1997, was destroyed by a fire caused by an electrical fault on September 28, 2001. The lab, rebuilt at a cost of £3 million, reopened in January 2004. It includes an emergency compression chamber in case of diving accidents, and a cold-water aquarium in which researchers have noted the dramatic effects that even slight warming can have on key species in the Antarctic marine environment. Just a 2°C rise in the water temperature rendered three species unable to defend themselves from predators.