ClimateWatch

An initiative of Earthwatch Institute

Making your data count!

Your data counts!

Since ClimateWatch was launched in September 2009, there has been a very encouraging response to people wanting to be involved. The database has received over 1000 records on more than 50 species, in 160 locations! But there's a lot more to be done...

The need for long-term data on the timing of natural events (the study of phenology) has been identified by the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) as a high priority if we are to understand, predict and mitigate against the effects of climate change on biodiversity. This is particularly important in Australia where the combination of unique flora and fauna occupying low lying, fragmented landscapes will dramatically elevate extinction rates due to climate change. Of the 29,000-odd phenological studies that informed the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report in 2007, less than 10 were from Australia.

For this reason, ClimateWatch was developed to inspire the Australian community to become citizen scientist "ClimateWatchers" and assist scientists in gathering the vast amount of data required to address and manage the impacts of climate change on Australian biodiversity.

There has already been valuable data submitted into the ClimateWatch database since its September launch. Of interest, migratory species have been recorded (including the Fan-tailed Cuckoo and Grey Fantail) and the Crested Pigeon has been observed in the southern states of Australia, showing its range is expanding.

The behaviours most recorded so far are feeding (45% of observations) and then calling (30%). 83% of observations to date have been on birds, followed by insects, plants, and then frogs. The most recorded on species is the well-known Australian Magpie, followed by the Grey Fantail, Magpie-lark, Common Starling, Fan-tailed Cuckoo, Common Blackbird, Yellow-faced Honeyeater, Willie Wagtail, and then Cabbage White Butterfly.

It's important to remember when recording your observations to not only record the first time you saw a plant or animal, but every day you see it or observe it doing a certain behaviour (for example calling). This allows scientists to not only know when the species first appeared or started doing something, but also when it disappeared or stopped doing that behaviour!

So start making observations on these species and record them on the ClimateWatch website. If you're not already registered as a ClimateWatcher and want to do something more about climate change, register now and help unlock nature's secrets!

Please note that signing up as a ClimateWatcher is a separate registration process to signing up for the newsletter.

One of the most recorded species is the Australian Magpie. Photo provided by RBG Sydney.

One of the most recorded species is the Australian Magpie. Photo provided by RBG Sydney.