A logbook gathering examples of scientific and artistic projects using digital technologies for phenology , the study of recurring events in plant and animal life and climate cycles.

Abisko, Sweden

Listening to Phenology

Early Ears during summer and winter Abisko, Sweden

Early Ears.

The installation provides access to listen and record the live audio stream of the location using a set of traveling microphones designed to resemble listening ears. These microphones capture the current soundscape , and is called 'Early Ears.' Today, these microphones are positioned in Abisko, allowing everyone to listen to the changes in the soundscape throughout the year, a practice commonly referred to as listening to phenology . You can find the microphone's current location on the map of locusonus, as it continues to broadcast the captivating soundscape of Abisko.

With support of the Swedish Polar Research Secretariat for the Changing Perspectives - Access Abisko Values

Chichibu, Saitama, Japan


Monitoring webcam image from Tetto Cyberforest research site, Chichibu Forest. Image source: Cyberforest [photograph]. Retrieved 16 November 2022, from http://www.cyberforest.jp/

Cyberforest is a long-term environmental monitoring project that started in 1997 in the University of Tokyo Chichibu Forest. The project captures sound and imagery from forests in Japan over an extended period of time, and shares real-time and archived data publicly online. Data from the project support scientific work on phenology through continuously observing processes of flowering, fruiting, leaf emergence and leaf fall in the forest. Cyberforest also involves an educational and participatory component; data from the project have been used as part of environmental education in schools in central Japan, and as as the basis for a participatory remote bird census that engaged members of the public through social media.

Contae Chill Dara/County Kildare, Éire/Ireland

Martina O'Brien: of ephemeral measure

Martina O'Brien of ephemeral measure
A digital camera image from the plantation forest site monitored in 'of ephemeral measure', 03/12/21. Image source: Martina O'Brien. Reproduced with permission.

Martina O'Brien is a visual artist whose work thinks about climate change, data production, and different ways of sensing environments. Martina's project of ephemeral measure (2021-ongoing) involves installing and maintaining digital cameras at a range of sites in County Kildare – including a forest plantation – in an effort to counter the lack of phenological monitoring in Ireland. In contrast to the large open-data infrastructure of international projects such as the PhenoCam network, the production, purpose, storage, and use of data in of ephemeral measure is more contingent, "inconsistent and volatile" (O'Brien 2022). Noting the embodied efforts of maintaining a network and the energy -intensivity of cloud-based storage systems for accumulating data, O'Brien shares elements of the project through more low-tech methods, including 'walkshops' with community members and artist publications.

The plantation forest site, 19/12/21. Image source: Martina O'Brien. Reproduced with permission.

Leaving space for glitch, error, and blur, of ephemeral measure calls attention to the physical processes, material contingencies and indeterminacies underpinning remote sensing and the making of phenological data in changing environments. While similar to PhenoCam in suggesting the need for more phenological data in the context of climate change, the project also prompts us to question how, why, and where data are amassed and accumulated, and the spaces, relationships, and knowledges that are produced through these processes.

Screenshot 2022-08-29 at 15.10.05
The plantation forest site, 25/06/22. Image source: Martina O'Brien. Reproduced with permission.
Bartlett, New Hampshire, United States


PhenoCam Bartlett
A PhenoCam image from the Bartlett Experimental Forest in New Hampshire. Image source: PhenoCam [screenshot]. Retrieved 15 November 2022, from https://phenocam.nau.edu/webcam/sites/bartlettir/

The PhenoCam Network uses digital cameras for automated, near-surface remote sensing to observe seasonal changes in the greenness of the canopy in forest ecosystems. In doing so, the project hopes to develop understandings about how phenological events influence carbon and hydrological cycles, and the impact of climate change on phenology. The network started in temperate and boreal forest ecosystems in the northeastern United States and Canada, and is led from Northern Arizona University. Conceived as a cooperative network, PhenoCam has now spread more widely and will archive and process imagery from external participants to be shared as open data.

I found out about PhenoCam through the artist Martina O'Brien and her project of ephemeral measure.

smart forests radio