Arctic & Antarctic Research Institute (AARI/RAE)

Photo: Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute – Russian Antarctic Expedition

About the Russian Federation’s National Antarctic Program

COMNAP Representative (MNAP): Alexander Klepikov, RAE Head
(DMNAP): Mikhail Bugaev, Deputy RAE Head

During the period 1819 to 1821, the Russian South Polar Expedition onboard the sloops Vostok and Mirny under command of Faddey Bellingshausen and Mikhail Lazarev approached several times the shores of the unknown ice continent. The next voyage of the USSR seamen to the Antarctic was 145 years later, when in 1946 the ships of the whaling flotilla Slava began annual operations. In the season of 1947-1948, scientists began participating in its cruises. They carried out oceanographic, meteorological and hydrobiological studies of Southern Ocean waters. In July 1955, the Complex Antarctic Expedition (CAE) of the USSR Academy of Sciences was established. Its objectives included preparation and implementation of the research programs in the framework of the International Geophysical Year (IGY) 1957-1958. For the past 57 years, the expedition changed its name several times and from 7 August 1992 up to present it has been named the Russian Antarctic Expedition (RAE).

All these years, specialists representing different Ministries and Agencies of the USSR and the Russian Federation participated in the activities of the expedition. At the first stages these were the USSR Academy of Sciences, the USSR Ministry for Geology, the Main Administration of the Northern Sea Route of the USSR Ministry of Marine Fleet, the Main Administration of the Hydrometeorological Service under the Council of Ministers of the USSR, the Main Administration on Geodesy and Cartography under the Council of Ministers of the USSR and the USSR Ministry for Defense. In subsequent years, specialists of the USSR Ministry of Education and the USSR Ministry of Fishery were added.

Beginning from 1963, the Main Administration of the Hydrometeorological Service under the Council of Ministers of the USSR, with the Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute being in its structure at that time, was entrusted with organizing and conducting the Soviet Antarctic Expeditions. The Institute began to carry out the Antarctic studies from 1957, when the Department of Antarctic Research was set up. On 25 June 1958, the Institute was transformed from the Arctic Research Institute to the Arctic and Antarctic Research (AARI), where in 1958, a special logistical division for preparation, planning and organization of the next CAE – SAE (now the RAE logistical Center) was established.

All CAE (SAE, RAE) activity can be subdivided into three stages:

  • Reconnaissance (1956 – late 1960s);
  • Exploration of natural resources of the Antarctic (late 1960s – early 1990s);
  • Investigation of the role of the Antarctic in global climatic and social changes (early 1990s and up to present).

About the Organisational Structure of AARI/RAE

The Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute (AARI) was established by the Decision of the USSR Government in 1920. The Institute received its current name in 1958, as the Arctic studies were the main goal in the first 38 years of its existence. At the present time the AARI carries out research and scientific studies in the following fields: Meteorology and climatology; Ocean-atmosphere interaction; Oceanography; Sea ice; Ice and ocean physics; Hydrology of the river mouth areas; Engineering oceanography and ice research in organizing activities in the offshore areas of the ice-covered seas; Polar geography and glaciology of ice sheets; and Polar medicine.

In addition within the institute structure there are the Center of Ice and Hydrometeorological Information with the technical group for data transmission, the Department of the Expedition Fleet and the Logistical Center of the Russian Antarctic Expedition and the World Sea-Ice Data Bank, the Russian-German Otto Schmidt Laboratory and the Russian-Norwegian Fram Laboratory and the Department of Training of Young Specialists and the Post-Graduate School.

By the Order of the RF Government of 8 October 2012, No.1872-r, the AARI was assigned the status of state operator in the Antarctic. In 2011, the financing of the institute’s activities was from the following sources:

  • Roshydromet – 1538. 6 M Rubles;
  • Ministry of Education and Science – 20.7 M Rubles;
  • Agreements with other organizations – 372.7 M Rubles.

The funds allocated by Roshydromet were distributed as follows:

  • Scientific research -101.6 M Rubles;
  • Scientific studies in the Antarctic under the Federal Target Program “World Ocean” – 16.1 M Rubles;
  • Scientific studies for creating one common information system on the state of the world ocean – 17.1 M Rubles;
  • Studies on Spitsbergen – 60.4 M Rubles;
  • Geophysical research – 45.1 M Rubles;
  • Russian Antarctic Expedition – 885.7 M Rubles;
  • Construction in the Antarctic – 232.2 M Rubles;
  • Arctic expeditions – 183.6 M Rubles.

The following year-round operating stations were established: Mirny, Oasis, Pionerskaya, Komsomolskaya, Vostok, Sovetskaya, Lazarev, Novolazarevskaya, Molodezhnaya, Bellingshausen, Leningradskaya, Russkaya and Progress (Table 1). The seasonal field bases included: the Pole of Inaccessibility, Amery, Druzhnaya-1, Druzhnaya -2, Druzhnaya -3, Druzhnaya -4, Geolog and Soyuz (Table 2).

The logistical supply of the Antarctic stations and field bases, rotation of the wintering personnel, and delivery of the seasonal personnel to and from the Antarctic is provided by the research-expedition ship Akademik Fedorov built in 1987. On 10 October 2012 in St. Petersburg, the RF state flag was hoisted onboard the new research-expedition vessel built for RAE support. She was named after the former AARI Director, pioneer of Vostok station in Antarctica – Academician Aleksey Tryoshnikov (the R/V Akademik Tryoshnikov). The RAE activities are also supported by means of the intercontinental aviation flights from Capetown to the ice airfield of Novolazarevskaya station (aircraft IL-76TD) and from Punta Arenas (Chile) to King George Island (aircraft DC-3 BT 67 TurboBasler). The resupply of the inland Vostok station is carried out by two sledge-caterpillar traverses made each summer season, and the rotation of personnel and delivery/transportation of the seasonal team – by means of aircraft DC-3 BT 67 TurboBasler. The sledge-caterpillar traverses and flights of aircraft are made to Vostok from Progress station (the route length is 1350 km). The marine geophysical studies are carried out using the R/V Akademik Aleksander Karpinsky, belonging to the Polar Marine Geological Exploration Expedition (Lomonosov, St. Petersburg) of the Federal Agency for Subsoil Use.

The personnel of the wintering and seasonal expeditions are determined by the RF Government for each 5-year period. At present it numbers 110 and 120 people, respectively, not including the crews of marine ships and aircraft and the construction group involved in capital construction in Antarctica.

At the end of 2012, the RAE will complete construction of the new wintering complex and the snow-ice runway of Progress station. At the end of December 2012, the research expedition vessel Akademik Tryoshnikov will depart for her maiden voyage to the Antarctic. Then this vessel will operate in the Pacific Ocean sector of the Antarctic between Bellingshausen and Mirny stations with work performed at the field bases Russkaya, Leningradskaya and Bunger Oasis. The R/V Akademik Fedorov will continue operation in the Indian Ocean sector of the Antarctic between Novolazarevskaya and Mirny stations with work carried out at these stations and at Progress station and at the seasonal field bases Molodezhnaya, Druzhnaya-4 and Soyuz.

From 1998 the RAE budget is provided by a separate line in the Federal Budget of Russia “Activity of the Russian Antarctic and Arctic expeditions”. For RAE in 2012 it comprises a total of 1 830.3 M Rubles or 58.95 M USD as follows:

  • operational costs – 1 015.5 M Rubles or 32.7 M USD;
  • purchase of special equipment and instruments – 57.5 M Rubles or 1.85 M USD;
  • construction of the R/V Akademik Treshnikov– 600.0 M Rubles or 19.3 M USD;
  • completion of the new wintering complex and the air strip at Progress station – 157.3 M Rubles or 5.1 M USD.

The operational costs include salary of personnel and payment of taxes, fuel, food, climatic clothing, medical supplies, spare parts, repair of equipment, insurance of personnel, ship and aircraft transport costs for the delivery of cargos and personnel from St. Petersburg to the Antarctic stations or seasonal field bases and operational communication services, which are distributed between the three next RAE (January-May – end of the wintering operations of the expedition and seasonal operations, January-December – operation of the new wintering expedition in Antarctica and September-December – preparation of the next expedition).

In 2012, these expenditures comprised 1015.5 M rubles or 32.7 M USD. Of them:

  • end of the 56th wintering RAE – 60 M Rubles (6%);
  • carrying out the 57th seasonal and wintering RAE – 401.8 M Rubles (40%);
  • preparation and beginning of the 58th RAE – 553.7 M Rubles (54%).

In the Draft Federal Budget of Russia for 2013, the expenditures for RAE support are planned in the amount of 1122.9 M Rubles. Of them:

  • end of the 57th wintering RAE – 64.2 M Rubles (6%);
  • carrying out the 58th seasonal and wintering RAE – 465.4 M Rubles (41%);
  • preparation and beginning of the 59th RAE – 593.3 M Rubles (53%).

For the last years, activities at the Russian Antarctic stations, seasonal field bases and onboard the expedition vessels comprise in the relative expression:

  • Mirny station – 11%;
  • Vostok station – 33.9%;
  • Novolazarevskaya station – 15.9%;
  • Progress station – 11.7%;
  • Bellingshausen station – 5.6%;
  • Field base Molodezhnaya – 1.9%;
  • Field base Druzhnaya -4 – 4.1%;
  • Scientific programs onboard the R/V Akademik Fedorov- 5.1%;
  • Scientific programs onboard the R/V Akademik Treshnikov- 6.95%;
  • Organization and management of the expedition in St. Petersburg – 3.9%.

The expenditures for maintenance of stations and seasonal field bases include the operational costs and annual repair of two research-expedition vessels and chartering of aviation.

Our Science Program

The main directions of RAE activities are as follows:

  • determination of the role of the Antarctic in the processes of global climate change;
  • investigation of subglacial water and lithosphere objects of Antarctica;
  • study of biodiversity of Antarctica and the surrounding seas;
  • geological-geophysical study of the Antarctic in terms of perspectives of its mineral and hydrocarbon potential;
  • study of space weather as an indicator of solar-terrestrial physical relations;
  • investigation of the anthropogenic impact on the Antarctic environment.

All these years the AARI organized and carried out studies in Antarctic meteorology, upper-air, glaciology of ice sheets and sea ice, oceanography of Southern Ocean waters, study of geophysical processes in the magnetosphere and the ionosphere of the southern hemisphere, polar geography and medicine and environmental monitoring of the Antarctic. The other types of studies in the fields of geology, biology, hydrography, land hydrology, etc., similar to separate directions in the aforementioned science branches, are carried out in the RAE structure by specialists of the other scientific and educational organizations of Russia, representing the Federal Service for Hydrometeorology and Environmental Monitoring, Federal Agency for Subsoil Use, Federal Agency for Fishery, the Russian Federal Space Agency, Ministry of Education and Science of the RF, Ministry of Defense of the RF, Ministry of Transport of the RF and the Russian Academy of Sciences.

One of the most important directions of activities is constant monitoring of the state of Antarctic environment performed at Mirny, Vostok, Progress, Novolazarevskaya and Bellingshausen and by using the automated meteorological and geodetic stations operating the year-round at Molodezhnaya, Druzhnaya-4, Russkaya, Leningradskaya and in the area of Progress station.

Our Contact Details​​

Dr. Alexander Makarov, Director of the Institute

Dr. Ivan Frolov, Scientific Head of the Institute

Dr. Alexander Klepikov, Deputy Director AARI, RAE Head
Phone: +7(812) 416 42 45

Mikhail Bugaev, Deputy Director RAE/Head of RAE Logistics Center

Postal Address
Bering St. 38