A possible merger of the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) with the National Oceanography Centre (NOC) was announced on June 7th by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), the umbrella organisation for both organisations.
NERC say they intend to continue to operate scientific bases in South Georgia and Antarctica. It is considering a merger of the scientific and logistics management of marine and polar science delivered through the BAS and NOC and according to the NERC website, a unified marine and polar headquarters would deliver a single management function whilst retaining the identity of the existing centres as component parts. All the existing BAS and NOC sites, at Cambridge, Southampton, and Liverpool, would remain without the need for significant relocations of staff. NERC claim that the merger would better exploit the many scientific and operational synergies between marine and polar science through combined scientific and logistics management and administration of NOC and BAS.
More integrated management of increasingly expensive major research infrastructure, especially NERC's four research ships, may achieve further savings through improved opportunities for partnership and cost-sharing with the international marine and polar sciences communities, NERC states. It is the Councils intention to increase the excellence and impact of NERC's marine and polar science whilst continuing to operate its scientific bases in Antarctica and South Georgia, and retaining the current level of activity in that region.
The potential merger will be further considered in December and in the meantime NERC will be consulting its staff and wider stakeholders on how best to implement the proposed changes in order to increase both the excellence and impact of NERC marine and polar science.