The ClimateWatch program in Australia was developed by Earthwatch with the Bureau of Meteorology and The University of Melbourne to understand how changes in temperature and rainfall are affecting Australia's plants and animals. This is the first project of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere. Any Australian citizen can go online to record data they collect on a number of indicator species.
Like data collected by USA-NPN observers, the Australians' data will help scientists monitor climate change and develop a scientific response to it.
A jacaranda tree in Wooroolin, Australia [Source: Rossrs at Wikipedia]
I first learned about the ClimateWatch project in Climate story emerges from purple haze, an article about a ClimateWatch trail at the Royal Botanic Garden in Sydney. The "purple haze" describes a flowering tree that is native to South America, but can be found in many Australian parks, gardens and neighborhoods:
LOVE them or loathe them, jacarandas, with their brilliant purple petals, have an important story to reveal about the effects of climate change.
The familiar Sydney trees are part of a new ''citizen scientist'' project in which visitors to the Royal Botanic Gardens can observe a selection of plants and animals and record information such as whether they are in bloom, nesting, or flying about.
Andy Donnelly, science director of Earthwatch, says it was important to include non-natives such as the jacaranda on the list so they could compare what's happening to the species in Australia with other parts of the world.