The annual cycle of natural events such as leaves and flowers emerging, migratory birds appearing, animals breeding or eggs hatching is impacted by the weather. The timing of these events can be very sensitive to the variations in rainfall and temperature that are already being experienced across Australia. Biologists forecast that these changes will result in increased extinction rates and adverse impacts on forestry and food production.
Phenology studies the timing of these recurring natural phenomena and phenological records are consequently a useful tool in the study and understanding of climate change. Collecting and analysing information on complex phenological changes is critical to managing pests, preserving habitats for native species and adapting agriculture for the future. The UN has identified large scale data gathering of phenological data as a high priority. However, the dataset required for a clear understanding of natural process change is huge and the number of on-ground observers required to collect the information is immense. The scale of the task suggests it will only be possible through a combined effort and by engaging the community in the process.
The ClimateWatch Program
In response to this challenge, Earthwatch, Land & Water Australia, Melbourne University and the Bureau of Meteorology have developed ClimateWatch: a climate change monitoring program allowing all Australians to participate with the scientific community in making observations and recording data.
Community groups, schools and individuals will be able to follow selected plant and animal indicators and submit their observations of life cycle and migration activities to a central database. Data collection will be facilitated using everything from sophisticated mobile technology and a dedicated internet portal to traditional phone and mail.
ClimateWatch provides community members and schools with a focus for developing their understanding of climate change and natural processes and at the same time, scientists gain access to a suite of data collected in an efficient and cost-effective manner.
Opportunities for Involvement and Support
ClimateWatch offers a unique opportunity for organisations to become affiliated with a high profile community program focused on managing the impacts of climate change. We are currently welcoming support from organisations, companies or individuals who can provide financial, in-kind or practical support to help deliver key program outcomes including:
For more information or to become involved visit the ClimateWatch website.