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The USGS Land Cover Institute (LCI)

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Global Land Cover Characterization Program

10 Day Mosaic

The United States Geological Survey (USGS) has a long history of involvement in multi-scale, and multi-temporal land cover characterization and mapping of the world. During the 1970's, the Anderson System for land use and land cover classification system was developed and the conterminous United States (US) was mapped using aerial photographs. During 1980's, 75% of state of Alaska was mapped using Landsat satellite data. During the 1990's, (i) land cover characteristics database concept was demonstrated, (ii) Multi-Resolution Land Characteristics (MRLC) consortium was formed with Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and US Forest Service (USFS), (iii) Global Land Cover Characteristics database was completed, and (iv) land cover and vegetation databases of the U.S. using Landsat TM data were completed. During 2000-2002, a forest canopy density map was produced as a part of Forest Resources Assessment 2000 for the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), and MRLC-2001 dataset was released. In 2003, land cover mapping of North America was carried out as a contribution to the Global Land Cover 2000 project being implemented by the Joint Research Center (JRC) of European Commission (EC).

Building on the strength, capabilities, and resources available at EDC, the Global Land Cover Characterization (GLCC) program strives to continue its role as an international leader and innovator in multi-scale land cover characterization and mapping of the world. Specific objectives of the program are to:

  • Develop time series state-of-the-art global land cover characteristics databases needed for global and continental assessment programs, environmental treaties and agreements, and wide variety of users such as scientists, resource mangers, planners, and educators;
  • Play a leading role in the advancement of global land cover characterization research work to better understand land cover dynamics of the world;
  • Pursue research that improves the information content, information consistency and relevancy, and usability of the next generations of global land cover databases using recently available or soon to be available remotely sensed satellite data; and
  • Continue serving as the World Data Center (WDC) for land cover data administered by the International Council for Scientific Unions (ICSU) for access to, or information about, land cover data of the world.

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