Why Antarctica Is Being Explored（为什么要勘探南极洲）
6. The Antarctica treaty applies to all areas (the high seas excepted) below latitude 60 degrees south. This line, running around the globe some 2,000 miles from the South Pole itself, just misses the lower tip of South America, and is well below the Cape of Good Hope and New Zealand. There are a number of small islands between this line and the Antarctic continent, but the waters here are known to mariners as "the screaming Sixties" because there is so little obstruction to the world-circling winds.
7. In contrast, in the northern hemisphere, the lands lying above the sixtieth parallel of latitude include much of Scandinavia, Siberia and Alaska, all of Greenland and Iceland, with a total population of several million. Great mountains help subdue the winds; a spur of the Gulf Stream and part of the Japan Current temper the frigid airs of this polar region. This, and the presence of the Arctic Ocean in the center of the great land mass, give the area a markedly different conformation and climate from that around the opposite pole.
8. Antarctica seems a vast basin of rock, filled and overflowing with a load of ice. In the heart of the continent it is almost as high as the summits of the Alps, yet soundings show that in places that rock floor is below sea level.
9. Actually, the ice accumulation is less than it was perhaps 1,000 years ago. Its seaward flow is not so voluminous as it once was, and as a result there are patches of bare rock here and there along the coast and inland. They were scoured clear of soil ages ago, but one may sometimes find moss or lichens growing, though virtually no flowering plants.