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CNN10 2019-11-21

CNN 10

Update on Firefight in Australia; Tour of an Alaskan Landmark; Examination a Possible Reason Why Babies Hiccup

Aired November 21, 2019 - 04:00:00 聽 ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

CARL AZUZ, CNN 10 ANCHOR: Fire and ice are the first two topics today on CNN 10. I'm Carl Azuz. Hope your Thursday is going well. A resident of Sydney, Australia says at one point this week she thought her house was on fire. It wasn't but as the smoke blew into Sydney from the bushfires burning nearby, air quality dropped to hazardous levels. Some Australians started complaining of burning eyes and the symptoms of asthma and a haze has settled over Australia's largest city. The state it's in, New South Wales, is home to almost 8 million people. It's been dealing with bushfires for much of this month. They've destroyed hundreds of homes and killed four people and more than 1,300 firefighters are still fighting the blazes in New South Wales and in the state that forms its northern border Queensland.

Meantime, one state west in south Australia more than 100 schools have closed because of incredibly dangerous conditions. The South Australian of Meteorology says any fires that start will be extremely hard to control. A total ban on starting new fires is in place and like the ongoing power shutoffs we've told you about in California, electricity has been switched off to more than 10,000 people in south Australia. Officials don't want equipment starting any new bushfires. About 2.5 million acres of land have burned so far. It's late springtime in Australia when the region is prone to wildfires and high temperatures, strong winds and an ongoing drought are only making conditions more dangerous. Forecasters predict that Thursday will be another hot and dangerous day with windy conditions on the eastern part of the continent.

10 Second Trivia. Where would you find three-quarters of Earth's freshwater? Great Lakes, glacier ice, global rivers or ground water.

Glacier ice is the world's second largest water reservoir and it's biggest freshwater reservoir.

Glaciers cover about 10 percent of the world's total land area and when you think of them what might come to mind are these super massive chunks of immovable ice. But some of them are anything but, Gem Glacier the smallest one in Montana's Glacier National Park covers only about five acres which is like five football fields. And the Alaska Almanac states that the state of Alaska alone is home to 100,000 glaciers, also they move. Maybe not so fast that you can watch them drift like a boat over water but weather glaciers are crunching downwards through valleys or spreading away from a central point, these ice masses slip, slide, creep and crawl across the surface. Scientists say most of the worlds glaciers are shrinking though some are getting larger and investigations are taking place worldwide. CNN's Holly Firfer recently took a tour of one that's said to be the largest U.S. glacier that's accessible by a car.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HOLLY FIRFER, CNN NEWS ANCHOR: Glaciers. Majestic and mysterious. These icy giants make up about 10 percent of the worlds land mass, remnants of the last ice age and they continue to transform as new layers of snow bury and compress the layers before it. Here in Alaska about 100 miles north of Anchorage sit's the Matanuska Glacier. It's about 27 miles long, four miles wide so we thought, hey, why not hike it? First we needed a guide.

In the winter especially, glaciers can be dangerous because you can't see below the snow.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Everything on the trail, safe. You take one step off the trail and there might be a hole there. So it is really important that we do stay on the trail.

FIRFER: So we joined guides Tiffany and John (ph) from Salmon Berry Tours for our glacier hike adventure.

(JOHN): We drive right up to the edge of it and then we put on gear. We have spikes for our feet. We put on helmets for precaution.

FIRFER: After a brief introduction to the glacier, we were off.

(TIFFANY): Now we've got some loose tracks right over here.

FIRFER: This is so cool.

(JOHN): We get up to some highers where there's some terrific views of the surrounding valley and all the while we're looking around at the features of the glacier. There's black ice, basil ice. There's moulins and crevices.

FIRFER: If you were wondering what those are so were we but not for long. Part of our adventure was the hike, the other part was learning about these massive natural wonders.

(JOHN): A crevice is a crack in the ice, various sizes. Some are small and some can swallow a vehicle. So moulins are holes in the ice. They - -they form when flowing water flows off of it and it sort of erodes into the glacier itself and it creates some really amazing features. Just kind of weird, sort of, carvings inside the ice.

FIRFER: A giant hole in the ice? OK then. Let's check it out.

(TIFFANY): So we're going to go in here about two at a time.

(JOHN): Don't have to be perfectly physically fit. We always like to know if you have any limitations physically before you come out. It's nothing extreme in terms of going up or down inclines but just be prepared for stepping on uneven surfaces.

FIRFER: We're only about a mile in and the views are becoming even more spectacular every step you take. Perhaps what's most remarkable besides the dramatic landscapes is the vastness and the stillness of the surroundings.

(JOHN): A lot of times when I take groups out there, I'll - - I'll get to a point on the tour and I'll say OK. Let's just stop and let's just take a couple minutes and listen to the silence. And it - - it without fail after like a minute you just - - you just kind of start looking around and you're like, you can feel that can't you. People that come out, they might be a little intimidated by the cold or about the drive. You know, we take care of a lot of that and so we try to make it so that's something that you can really - - that you can really take memories back. It's not something people do everyday but to say you walked on the glacier. It's really unique.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

AZUZ: Why do we hiccup? A new study out of University College London may shed some light on why babies do that but for you and me still a mystery.

According to scientists and many moms out there, babies hiccup long before they're born. In an effort to find out more researchers monitored 13 hiccupping newborn babies. Some of them premature and some of them full term by placing sensors on their heads and upper bodies. They say hiccupping triggered a large wave of brain signals for the babies and one study author's theory is that the brain waves might help babies link the sound of the hiccup to the muscle contraction they feel in their diaphragm.

The purpose that could serve is to teach babies to monitor their breathing eventually helping them to control it. But other scientists say this was a small study that doesn't prove that definitively. Either way, why do we still do this as adults? Researchers don't know. They say there's no known advantage as to why people continue to hiccup throughout the rest of their lives. The same scientists who conducted this study have also examined babies kicks in the womb and they theorize that those could help a child create a, sort of, mental map of his or her own body.

From baby to Bei Bei. That's the name of a giant panda who's been at the National Zoo since he was born there four years ago. At that time he was about the size of a stick of butter, now he's 240 pounds of pure "pandemonium" and he just arrived at his new home in China. This is part of an agreement between the National Zoo and the Chinese government. Bei Bei will now be cared for in a conservation and research center in China until he's old enough to go into its breeding program.

Though the giant panda is no longer an endangered species, it is still vulnerable as conservationists believe there are less than 2,000 giant pandas in the wild. It's hope that Bei Bei will help increase their numbers at least in captivity. He was FedEx'd to China, literally, in a direct flight on his own 777 private plane and I'm not making this up. They called it the Panda Express.

While Bei Bei's move to China got some people choked up. We'd like to share something that went down when he was at Washington, D.C. Did you know that pandas are built to withstand falls from trees? That's something I learned today on CNN 10 while watching this footage of Bei Bei take a dive. It's amazing the tree held up this long but oop, there it goes. Not only was he unhurt but he then showed us just how giant pandas scale trees.

He was "falling" all over himself to do that and I'm not going out on a "limb" when I tell you that Bei Bei is "OK-K". And that he "may may" know the "way way" to try, try again when at first you don't "stay treed". I'm Carl Azuz. Don't "panda puns" ya'll. They're something we all must "bear" on CNN 10.

END