Bulgarian Antarctic Institute​ (BAI)

Photo: Christo Pimpirev

About Bulgaria’s National Antarctic Program

COMNAP Representative (MNAP): Christo Pimpirev, Director
(DMNAP): Dragomir Mateev, Operations

The Republic of Bulgaria joined the Antarctic Treaty in 1978 and became the twenty-seventh Consultative Party in 1998. The Bulgarian Antarctic Institute (BAI) is the headquarters for the organization and co-ordination of Bulgaria’s Antarctic campaigns.

In the austral summer season of 1987-1988, six Bulgarian scientists participated in joint projects with the British Antarctic Survey and the Soviet Institute for Antarctic and Arctic Research. This Bulgarian program was aimed at gathering valuable experience both in carrying out scientific research and the organization of the logistics in Antarctica. During this Antarctic season a refuge was established on Livingston Island (South Shetland Islands) on a spot located on the north-east side of the South Bay.

In the period between 1993 and 2013, Bulgaria organized 20 successive Antarctic campaigns. The seasonal, summer base named St. Kliment Ohridski replaced the refuge, providing normal working conditions and an option for it to be used permanently if necessary. The base can accommodate a maximum of 25 people at any given time. The base functions due to logistics support and valuable help from the Spanish, Brazilian, Argentinean and Chilean National Antarctic Programs.

Chinstrap penguins in the foreground with the Bulgarian St. Kilment Ohridski Station in the background.

About the Organisational Structure of the Bulgarian Antarctic Institute

The BAI functions under the aegis of the President of the Republic of Bulgaria and with a decision of the Council of Ministers of Bulgaria, BAI is assigned to manage the National Antarctic Program.

The BAI therefore organises annual Antarctic campaigns and operates the Bulgarian Antarctic base St. Kliment Ohridski on Livingston Island (South Shetland Islands). BAI is a non-profit legal body and has 51 members and 4 member-entities. Those entities are: The Ministry of Foreign Affairs; The Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski”; The Academy of Medicine; and The Atlantic club of Bulgaria.

Antarctic activities are planned by the BAI Executive Board upon recommendation by the Scientific Board of the Institute. The Bulgarian Government is represented at the Executive Board of the Institute by a Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs. The Chairman of the Executive Board is the Manager of the National Antarctic Program, Professor Christo Pimpirev. The National Antarctic Program is funded predominantly by the Ministry of Education and Science, and partly from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Environment and Waters.

BAI provide logistic support of the base St. Kliment Ohridski and develops joint research projects with scientists of Spain, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Portugal, Great Britain, Russia, Germany, Japan, South Korea, Uruguay, Poland, Canada, Luxemburg, Mongolia, USA and other countries. BAI is a member of COMNAP, SCAR and the European Polar Board.


The Bulgarian Antarctic Science Program

The main scientific topics of the Bulgarian scientific program are focused on:

  • Earth sciences such as geology, geophysics, physics, glaciology, meteorology and cartography;
  • Life sciences including zoology, botany, ecology and human medicine.

Research work is implemented by means of 3-year projects undertaken by University-based or academic scientists. Emphasis is placed on a multidisciplinary approach towards understanding the pattern and processes in main polar national systems and their evolution. The National Antarctic Program is open to all Bulgarian scientists, who might present projects aimed at providing scientific contribution to the study of Polar Regions. In addition to present projects, the future scientific research activities will also be directed towards collaboration with international scientific teams, experienced in the investigation of Polar Regions.

The activities under the Biological Research Program have to date focused on the study of the biological diversity of the main habitats on Livingston Island. A number of plant and animal species and their communities have been described. The diversity of protozoan, diatoms and other algae, soil nematodes, freshwater and interstitial crustaceans has been studied. Eight new species for the world flora and fauna have been described and a few more are still to be described and published. Communities of diatom algae, protozoan and nematode tropic groups have been studied and described together with the patterns of their distribution in Antarctic habitats. Penguin genetics and molecular biology are also studied as a tool for addressing issues of their systematization and adaptation. The results of the Bulgarian Biological Research Program are published in the Series “Bulgarian Antarctic Research – Life Sciences” which can be accessed at http://www.nhbs.com/bulgarian_antarctic_research_life_sciences_sefno_126936.html

Further development of Bulgarian biological studies in the Antarctic will include investigations on the structure and functioning of Antarctic terrestrial ecosystems and environmental monitoring based on heavy metal contents in lichens and penguin feathers. A special project is carried on to study the role of UV-rays as a major factor for cell death and mutations, and carcinogenic effects together with their different protecting mechanisms including DNA-repair systems, formation of antioxidant enzymes and related proteins.

The main objective of the geological research projects is focused to provide explanation of the stratigraphy and tectonics of the Mesozoic turbidity successions, petrology of the subductional plutons, and to draw up a new model of tectonic-magmatic history of the South Shetland Islands. The first find of macrofossil, the age-diagnostic Upper Tithonian ammonite reported from the Myers Bluff Formation by the Bulgarian scientists will change the view on geological evolution of the South Shetland Islands and of the Antarctic Peninsula during the Mesozoic. Further development of the Bulgarian geological studies will include detailed geological mapping in scale 1: 5 000, paleontological search for macro and microfossils and paleoenvironmental interpretations.

The main subject of glaciological and meteorological studies are to design drills and equipment used in vertical and horizontal drillings and to investigate the microclimate phenomena related to complex geography, glaciers and ocean proximity, as well as securing automatization of meteorological monitoring in order to collect data necessary for the glaciological and biological observations. Dating the ice layers across the Hurd Peninsula glaciers and analyses of elements and isotopes in ice samples are among the anticipated results.

The interdisciplinary and multinational project PERMANTAR (Permafrost and Climate Change in the Maritime Antarctic) contributes to the global scientific efforts to bridge the gap in the knowledge of Antarctic permafrost characteristics, sensitivity and implications of climate change. The project involves 3 Portuguese research centers, Spanish research group, Bulgarian, Argentinean and US scientists. Antarctic logistics are provided by the Spanish Antarctic Program and by the Bulgarian Antarctic Institute (member of PERMANTAR). These countries have three research stations of the study area (Livingston and Deception Islands).

Our Contact Details


Physical/Postal Address

Bulgarian Antarctic Institute
15 Tzar Osvoboditel blvd.
1504 Sofia, Bulgaria

tel. (+3592) 9308-531
fax. (+3592) 846-2109