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Global Land Cover Characterization Background

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL), and the European Commission's Joint Research Centre (JRC) have generated a 1-km resolution global land cover characteristics data base for use in a wide range of environmental research and modeling applications. The global land cover characteristics database was developed on a continent-by-continent basis. All continental databases share the same map projections (Interrupted Goode Homolosine and Lambert Azimuthal Equal Area), have 1-km nominal spatial resolution, and are based on 1-km Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) data spanning April 1992 through March 1993. Each database contains unique elements based on the geographic aspects of the specific continent. In order to provide flexibility for a variety of applications, a core set of derived thematic maps produced through the aggregation of seasonal land cover regions are included in each continental database. The continental databases are combined to make seven global data sets, each representing a different landscape based on a particular classification legend. The global data sets are also available in two map projections (Interrupted Goode Homolosine and Geographic).

There are now two versions of the Global Land Cover Chacteristics database available. The first version (Version 1.2) of the Global Land Cover Characteristics database was released to the public in November, 1997. Version 1.2 was produced as an International Geosphere Biosphere Programme-Data and Information System (IGBP-DIS) initiative lead by the Land Cover Working Group and has been subjected to a formal accuracy assessment (the IGBP DISCover classification). Since this version was released, over 200 gigabytes of land cover data have been distributed from the EROS anonymous ftp site. Many of the users of the land cover data set have provided feedback (that is, suggestions for additions and improvements). We now offer a revised version of the database (Version 2.0). A formal accuracy assessment has not been conducted for the revised land cover data. Please read our global documentation for further information about the validation exercise and the differences between these versions of the Global Land Cover Characteristics database. The below information provides information on the classification schemes, categories, and a projection.

This effort is part of the National Aeronautic's and Space Administration (NASA) Earth Observing System Pathfinder Program. Funding for the project was provided by the USGS, NASA, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) , U.S. Forest Service (USFS) , and the United Nations Environment Programme . The data base has been adopted by the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme Data and Information System office (IGBP-DIS) to fill its requirement for a global 1-km land cover data set.

All data used or generated during the course of the project (source, interpretations, attributes, and derived data), unless protected by copyrights or trade secret agreements, are distributed through the Earth Resources Observation & Science (EROS).