An initiative of Earthwatch Institute

Climate change

Earthwatch Climate Change

Increasing global temperatures

It's well understood that climate change will lead to an increase in global average temperatures. But what does a 2 degree on average increase really mean?  You will be surprised to hear that the difference between a ice age period and today's temperature is just 2 degrees on average. The key word here is 'on average'. It's not simply the difference between a 20 degree day and a 22 degree day, but average temperatures across the world over an entire year.

Most places on the planet will get far warmer, some will get drier and others with be much wetter. And our polar ice caps will melt. More extremes is something we will become accustomed to. Although there are many apparent contradictions some consensus on major impacts is emerging.  There will always be uncertainty in understanding a system as complex as the world’s climate. However, there is now strong evidence that significant global warming is occurring.

A few thousand years ago animals and plants would have been able to adapt to climate change by moving, either immediately or gradually over generations. However, as wildlife is increasingly isolated in protected areas, it is no longer able to move as the regions outside the protected areas are filled with agriculture or human habitation. As a result, scientists predict that over a million species are threatened with extinction.

Make a difference with ClimateWatch

ClimateWatch was developed to understand the effects climate change is having on our earth's natural processes. The first project of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere, ClimateWatch will allow every Australian to be involved in collecting and recording data that will help shape the country’s scientific response to climate change. 

Climate change is affecting rainfall and temperature across Australia, and is consequently triggering changes in the established flowering times, breeding cycles and migration movements and other phenological changes. Essentially ClimateWatch is based on phenology, the study of periodic plant and animal life cycle events and how these are influenced by seasonal and interannual variations in climate. Examples include bird nesting, insect hatching, plant flowering and fruit ripening. Many studies have already provided insight into the relationship between climate variables, such as temperature and rainfall, to the timing of these phenophases. 


Further information