ClimateWatching in Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney Earthwatch Australia


We've had a go at answering some of the questions we get regularly from our invaluable ClimateWatchers. Please let us know if we've missed anything or contact us for any further questions or enquires.


  1. Why are photos compulsory?
    Upon advice from our science advisory panel and other large-scale citizen science programs, compulsory photos have been introduced to assist the data verification process and to improve the quality of data submitted to the Atlas of Living Australia. Compulsory images has increased the number of records we can validate by 30%, meaning more records can be used for scientific purposes. If uploading sightings via the website, please make sure it is your own photo of that sighting and not one from the internet.
  2. If I’m offline or in a low-reception area, will my observations still be uploaded?
    Spots submitted by users are stored locally on your device and can be sent in as soon as the app is back online thanks to the offline features of the app. The maps just appear empty currently, but no data is lost.


  1. I don’t have a GPS or smart phone, how do I record my location?
    Take note of your location by writing comments about visible landmarks (streets, residences, shops, etc). When you enter your spot on the website try to find your nearest location to your spot on the map.
  2. How often should I ClimateWatch?
    As often as you can (daily, weekly, monthly). Science often relies on precise measurements; and, identifying the exact date when a species moves into an area, washes up on the beach or increases dramatically in abundance is very important for long term data sets like ours. Regular recording also enables you to identify exactly when changes have occurred in your area, just like a personalised log book. Moreover, when trying to understand phenology - the timing of seasonal events - and how these are being influenced by climate change, we want as many regular sightings as possible to get an idea of the start, peak and end of these cycles.
  3. Can I ClimateWatch anywhere?
    Yes! There are over 150 species to spot all over Australia. The next time you are out walking your dog, bushwalking, heading to university, or strolling through your favourite park or garden, see if you can spot any ClimateWatch indicator species. If you’re unsure of where to start, try a ClimateWatch trail. These trails have been created with the help of Botanic Gardens, Universities, Scouts, Friends of groups, local Councils, community groups and educators around Australia.
  4. I’m in a group, should everyone submit recordings?
    Yes. Multiple entries enable scientists to ensure there is consistency amongst observations and also help to improve our sampling processes. It also helps to observe with others in case you are unsure of a sighting.
  5. What if I’m not 100% sure I have the right species?
    If you think you have the right species but are a little unsure, record it and leave a message for our scientists in the ‘comments’ section of the data recording page, write: “SPECIES REQUIRES CHECKING”. Make sure you submit a good quality photo. If you are only 50% or less sure you have the correct species, do not record it but take several photos and send them to the ClimateWatch team on our website for verification. When there is an option to select "unsure" for a particular phenophase or behavious, don't be afraid to select "unsure" as a certain unsure is better than an uncertain submitted sighting. You could also try to practice recording one species at a time, to become familiar with its behaviours and identification, and moving on to monitor more species once you become confident.
  6. What happens to my observations/spots?
    Our scientists review the data on a quarterly basis. The validated data is made publicly available on the Atlas of Living Australia and can be downloaded for free. It is also used by researchers and policy makers to help Australia build knowledge and understanding of climate change and how it impacts biological systems so we can better manage and conserve our environment well into the future.
  7. Why are there fewer species being monitored now?
    Some ClimateWatch indicator species have been made 'inactive' upon advice from our science advisory panel due to very few sightings or few correct sightings.