Blog search

Blog

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.

Humans are increasingly migrating towards the world’s major cities. The world’s urban population is thought to have increased six fold since 1950. By 2050, more than 68% of people are predicted to live in cities.1

Australia faces a much steeper challenge, with over 86% of our population living in urban areas already.

Along with urbanisation comes technological advancement and the establishment of the information era. With augmented and mixed realities giving life to a budding metaverse, what was once perceived as science fiction is now realised on a daily basis during an online work meeting. 

What was once perceived as science fiction is now realised on a daily basis during an online work meeting.

There are many benefits to a technologically advanced and predominately urban based society, however we cannot ignoreunderlyingrisks. Urban sprawl for example typically leads to reduced water quality, deforested or disrupted natural habitats and displaced wildlife. More pervasive is the underlying risk of a city-bound and plugged-in society becoming disconnected from the natural world.

More pervasive is the underlying risk of a city-bound and plugged-in society becoming disconnected from the natural world.

Research that measured society’s connectedness to nature found a stark decline in the presence of nature inspired or related content since the 1950s.Thiswas the same decade the impact of urbanisation began to take effect. 

 

If our society continues to become physically distant to the natural world via urbanisation whilst simultaneously becoming cognitively and emotionally distant then.

Where will the environmentalists of tomorrow come from?

What will our collective view of the natural world be by 2050?

The trends of urbanisation and technological advancement cannot be reversed, and arguably nor should they be. For all of the challenges we face in the present day, never before has there been a time when community led action could manifest with a simple click of a button. Instead, we must use the tools at our disposal to reshape our own urban environmental narratives and re-establish our connection with nature.  

What if urban areas could become a source for environmental connection?

What if our built environment was designed to facilitate environmental monitoring?

What if technology was instead used to heighten our understanding and appreciation of biodiversity in our cities?

Ultimately it will not be the experts, researchers or policy makers that realise this environmentally connected future. It will be the public. You will decide.

Citizen science is expected to play a major role in the transition that is required to reshape our urban environmental narrative. Only by engaging the general public to observe and engage with the biodiversity that exists in the creeks and corners of our cityscapes, may we begin to mend our collective disconnection.

Ultimately it will not be the experts, researchers or policy makers that realise this environmentally connected future. It will be the public. You will decide.

Unfortunately, urban Australia is sorely lacking in citizen science projects.

But Earthwatch is taking up the challenge.

ClimateWatch app, innovative new programs and expanding urban networks we’re exploring pathways to meet the public not just in parks and public spaces, but at their front door and in their neighbourhoods. Our goal is to create a new generation of urban environmental stewards and work towards a more environmentally connected urban Australia.

You can start today by stopping for a moment and looking around.

Tell me, what do you see?