A new iPhone app from ClimateWatch, a citizen science project started in 2007 by EarthWatch Australia, allows the public to record species sightings and help scientists to track climate change impacts.
Using the free app, you can record animal, bird, plant and insect behaviour and distribution. This data can then be used to help understand how Australia’s environment is responding to climate change.
So far there are over 25,000 data points recorded on the website launched in 2010, and more than 5,000 registered users.
You don’t have to be an expert to take part. You can record sightings when bushwalking, at the beach, or whilst sitting having a coffee in town. Even with limited mobile reception, observations can be recorded with GPS, time and date stamps.
ClimateWatch is working with scientists on analysing and presenting the data for use in reports and research. They’re looking at introducing the app into universities, and partnering with other citizen science projects such as Tasmania’s Red Map which tracks marine species. This will help to complement the data gathering process in areas it doesn’t cover yet.
Citizen science projects are when “scientists and researchers ask the public to deliver data on a large scale to further research. Large amounts of data can be gathered, processed or analysed faster to help researchers track trends and patterns.”