Next monday the Earthwatch institute will be launching their new citizen science website called Climatewatch. The Climatewatch website promises to be a major step forward in enrolling the Australian public in tracking the effects of climate change. I have been lucky enough to be involved with the development of the Climatewatch application and be a part of this groundbreaking and exciting project, which tracks observations of a selection of some 80+ key indicator species ranging from plants & butterflies through to whales & sugar gliders.
Looking at nature – the time when plants flower or birds migrate – is an ideal way of measuring the effects of climate change. The real trick to getting useful data from the masses, however, is the provision of tools that are user friendly and support the general public to collect information that is relevant to research. Finally, the data that is collected must be made accessible in formats that are open and readily available to the scientific community. Fortunately, the Climatewatch citizen science portal not only uses open standards for it data such as XML and KML, it is itself even built on open source technologies such as Spring, Hibernate and PostGIS.
If you’re keen on getting involved with Climatewatch, head on over to their website and start keeping an eye out for those indicator species (you can even start recording now and enter your data when the website goes live).