Since 1982, Earthwatch Institute Australia has focused on building networks of citizen scientists to generate data that address major biodiversity issues, including climate change. Due to the scale of the data collection task, there is currently a significant lack of knowledge within Australia on climate change impacts on biodiversity. Success in gathering this data is only possible with an approach that engages the community.
Supported by corporate, government, non-profit, private and education sectors, ClimateWatch involves the public in gathering phenology data on native plants and animals in urban and regional landscapes. Since its establishment in 2009, the program has created a network of over 24,000 people and monitored over 130 species. The data are submitted through an app and web platform and are analysed for quality by Earthwatch and a scientific advisory team. To date 75,000 records have been made freely available on a national biodiversity database, the Atlas of Living Australia.
ClimateWatch has become a powerful nature-based citizen science educational tool. The program has developed free secondary school lessons, facilitating high quality learning around phenology and climate science using real world research and is being embedded in primary, secondary and tertiary-level curricula.
The first continental-scale citizen science phenology in the Southern Hemisphere, ClimateWatch delivers outcomes of scientific and educational significance across Australia. The presentation will provide a broad overview of the program, sharing lessons learned, future directions and illustrate how harnessing the power of citizen science can help address climate change knowledge gaps for our region.
As Program Manager for ClimateWatch, Earthwatch Institute, Nadiah is also a field biologist with a passion for citizen science. She completed her undergraduate in Zoology at the Australian National University and her Masters in tropical ecology at James Cook University.
She spent 2013-2015 coordinating citizen science research expeditions in Queensland’s Wet Tropics World Heritage Area and was coordinator of the National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility (NCCARF): National Adaptation Network for Natural Ecosystems from 2015 and 2017.
Nadiah’s broad interests lie in sustainability and climate change biology. Her current role managing Earthwatch Institute’s national citizen science phenology program, ClimateWatch, seeks to harness the skills and passions of everyday Australians to help collect long-term phenology data for understanding how Australian flora and fauna is responding to climate change.