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There are a number of things that we look for when validating your observations. Here are some tips on how to be an expert ClimateWatcher.

Species

Some species are only located in particular regions of Australia. Check that you have identified the correct species by using the species profile information either on the website or in the app. Other mobile field guides available from your local museum could also help.

ClimateWatch is interested in the behaviour of a species as well as its location. Watch for species that are doing something particularly different to what you would normally see. For example, looking for nesting behaviour in the Black Swan, which generally happens during their breeding season (April to October in southern parts of Australia).

In 2018 the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its 1.5°C Special Report which reinforced the huge risks of global warming above 1.5°C, leading to widespread calls for greater climate action.

The IPCC Special Report shows the impacts of global warming of 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels and related global greenhouse gas emission pathways, in the context of strengthening the global response to the threat of climate change, sustainable development, and efforts to eradicate poverty.

The differences between holding global warming to 1.5°C as opposed to 2°C are illustrated in a World Resources Institute infographic below.

IPCC SpeciaI Report

Being cooped up inside, either self-isolating or working from home, can make many of us feel anxious and stir-crazy. Research shows how good being out in nature is for our mental health, but it's important to listen to the  current public health guidelines and stay home where required. If you have some natural spaces close to your home, we have created a ClimateWatch guideline for physical distancing:

The Earthwatch team have been busy delivering new ClimateWatch monitoring trails across Australia in 2019, including the first sub-alpine ClimateWatch trail at Mount Buffalo National Park in Victoria.

Mt Buffalo has high vegetation biodiversity. It's sensitive, sub-alpine grassland and woodland plant communities are at high risk from the impacts of climate change and pest species.

ClimateWatch has worked with the Biodiversity and Climate Change Virtual Laboratory (BCCVL) in developing maps for the current, future and range-change predicted habitat suitability of over 100 terrestrial ClimateWatch indicator species.

Not all species monitored on the ClimateWatch program will have BCCVL species distribution models produced for them due to limited occurrence data and limited climate/environmental data for marine species.

Parks Victoria and Earthwatch Australia are partnering to help gather important knowledge about the effects of climate change. The partnership will bring park visitors, nature enthusiasts, students, contractors, park staff, and the general public together with climate change scientists through ClimateWatch; and connect schools and community groups to their parks and neighbourhoods.

ClimateWatch in Parks offers a great opportunity for students to conduct their own individual studies in controlled yet wild environments, while also contributing to national and international research into climate change and phenology.

Changes in the timing of important life-cycle stages of plants and animals, such as flowering, breeding and migration, have provided some of the strongest evidence of climate change impacts on our natural and managed systems. These changes have the potential to disrupt predator-prey relationships and impact on food webs by changing the competition between species. Understanding how individual species and ecosystems will respond to future changes is important for effective planning in natural resource management and agricultural production.

Although we anticipate that species may not respond in similar ways across the globe it is only recently that we have been able to look for consistent patterns amongst southern hemisphere species and regions. For example, a recent study found that overall spring life-cycle stages are starting earlier. However, there were differences between species: for example marine species were more likely to commence breeding earlier than in terrestrial ones, and flowering in plants more so than breeding in birds. One of the strongest signals came from Australian grape vines, with varieties in many regions now reaching maturity, or ready for harvest, much earlier than previously.

At present, we only know a little about how changes seen in single species might impact on the relationship between species and the ecosystem as a whole. This is because, according to the authors of the study, there are large gaps in the information available on the patterns of life-stages of plants and animals in many regions and, as a consequence, there is an urgent need to fill these data gaps. ClimateWatch was cited as an example as one of the ways of filling the gaps.

To read the full article about changes in the Southern hemisphere, click here.