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双语有声阅读:Welcome to the Bottom of the World 南极大

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Welcome to the Bottom of the World 南极大陆 ── 世界最后的净土

Antarctica is the highest, driest, and coldest place on Earth. It is also the remotest, a fact which accounts for its unspoiled environment. It is difficult for people to get there, and not a comfortable place for people to stay once they arrive. It is widely described as the last true wilderness on our planet.


The Antarctic continent has mountain ranges similar in size to the European Alps. But whereas the Alps' snowcaps are just deep enough for skiing, Antarctic mountains are swallowed up by their caps, and lie buried beneath an ice sheet that is five kilometers thick.


The cold climate is responsible for maintaining the continent's year-round ice fields: They never melt. Even though Antarctica receives more sunlight than the equator, the temperatures are lower because the ice sheet reflects the heat back into space. Thus, the coldest temperature ever recorded on Earth was in Antarctica in July, 1983: Soviet scientists shivered through temperatures that fell to minus 89.2 degrees Celsius.


For centuries, Europeans wondered about the existence of a South-Polar continent, but no one actually knew for certain Antarctica was there until 1820 when European explorers "discovered" it. Since then, men have gone to Antarctica in search of adventure. Testing their abilities, several teams of explorers set out in 1911 to be the first men to stand at the South Pole. Norwegian Roald Amundsen and his men reached the pole; so did Robert F. Scott, an Englishman, but he and his team died on the return trip.


Once completely inaccessible, Antarctica has more recently been playing host to adventurers seeking excitement, scientists interested in experimenting, and companies looking to exploit this wild terrain for profit: gold, uranium, and oil are just some of the valuable resources which lie beneath the continent's icy covering.


Though no human population is native to Antarctica, about 1,000 people work there in the summer months, and another 12,000 tourists visit every year. They come to enjoy the unspoiled environment, the bright blue skies, and the fresh white snow fields.


If a tourist is lucky enough, he or she can join an expedition to see some of the continent's other residents. Animals along the coast of the Southern Ocean don't mind the cold weather, and thrive in Antarctica's seas. Penguins and seals breed on the icy shores and fish for krill in the cool water.


Yet, Antarctica's fragile and complicated eco-system is threatened by its human visitors. Damage to the environment occurs as people come looking for resources beneath the ice, or carelessly leave their garbage behind. Currently, countries are working to ensure that the damage to Antarctica's environment is minimized, and that the last wilderness on Earth will remain an unspoiled place.


南极洲是地球上最高、最干和最冷的地方。它也是最偏僻的,这就解释了南极洲为什么会成为一片没被污染的环境。人们很难到那儿,即使到了那里,南极洲也不是个能让人呆得舒适的地方。它被普遍形容为我们星球上的最后一片真正的荒野。


南极大陆的山脉覆盖的面积与欧洲的阿尔卑斯山差不多。不过阿尔卑斯山顶积雪的深度仅够滑雪,南极大陆的山脉却被积雪吞噬,深埋在厚达五公里的冰层下。


寒冷的气候使南极冰厚得可以常年维持:它们永不融化。虽然南极洲的光照比赤道多,气温却比它低,因为冰层能将热能反射回天空。因此,地球上的最低温度记录就是在1983年7月的南极洲:前苏联科学家在降至摄氏零下89.2度的低温中瑟瑟发抖。


几个世纪以来,欧洲人一直在猜测是否存在南极洲,直到1820年欧洲的探险家"发现"了它,人们才真正确定南极洲的存在。从那以后,人们开始去南极洲探险。1911年,几支探险队为了验证自己的能力出发去南极洲,希望能成为站在南极极点的先锋。挪威人罗德·阿蒙森和队友抵达了极点。英国人罗伯特·F·斯科特也做到了,不过他和他的队友却在回程中不幸丧生。


曾经遥不可及的南极洲,近来却开始接待寻求刺激的冒险家、有兴趣做实验的科学家和打算开发这片荒原获利的公司。黄金,铀和石油只不过是埋藏在南极冰层下宝贵资源中的几种而已。


虽然南极洲没有土著居民,但每年夏季的几个月里,约有1000人在那儿工作,另外还有约12,000名游客来此参观。他们到南极来享受没有污染的环境,碧蓝的天空和皓洁的雪原。


如果游客够幸运的话,他(她)还可以加入探险队一睹南极大陆上的其它生物。南太平洋沿岸的动物不介意严寒的气候,它们在南极海域中繁衍生息。企鹅和海豹则在结冰的海岸上繁衍后代,并在冰冷的海水中捕食磷虾。


不过,南极洲脆弱而复杂的生态系统正受到由人类组成的游客的威胁。人们来这儿寻找冰层下的自然资源,或不经意的留下垃圾,都会对环境造成污染。目前,各国正努力使对南极洲环境的破坏降到最低,以确保地球上的最后一片荒野能永远是一块未受破坏的地方。

重点单词   查看全部解释    
complicated ['kɔmplikeitid]

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adj. 复杂的,难懂的
动词complica

 
thrive [θraiv]

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vi. 兴旺,繁荣,茁壮成长

 
wilderness ['wildənis]

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n. 荒野,荒地

 
environment [in'vaiərənmənt]

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n. 环境,外界

 
carelessly ['kɛəlisli]

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adv. 粗心大意地,疏忽地

 
unspoiled ['ʌn'spɔild]

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adj. 未损坏的,未宠坏的

联想记忆
covering ['kʌvəriŋ]

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n. 覆盖物,遮避物 adj. 掩护的,掩盖的

 
terrain ['terein]

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n. 地带,地域,地形

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adventure [əd'ventʃə]

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n. 冒险,奇遇
vt. 冒险,尝试

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melt [melt]

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vi. 融化,熔化,消散
vt. 使融化,使熔

 


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