Beijing, China: The US is launching a new global initiative aimed at developing the first-ever comprehensive and up-to-date database of 30-meter satellite imagery that will show changes in land cover and land uses worldwide, announced Deputy Secretary of the Interior, David J. Hayes. Hayes, co-leading the US delegation to the 2010 Group on Earth Observations (GEO) summit, was joined in the announcement by Sherburne Abbott, Associate Director for Environment at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and GEO Co-Chair for the US.
The announcement of the Global Land-Cover Data Initiative follows the announcement of SilvaCarbon, a separate US initiative designed to strengthen global capacity to understand, monitor and manage forest and terrestrial carbon.
Hayes said, “The Global Land-Cover Data Initiative aims to provide land-managers, decision-makers and communities around the globe with critical information about changes to land use and land cover. This type of sharing of data and technology can help us make wise decision about how best to build a sustainable future, protect our environment and tackle challenges like pollution and climate change.”
More than 80 percent of the imagery for the Global Land-Cover Data Initiative can be obtained with Landsat, a satellite programme operated by Interior’s US Geological Survey (USGS) in cooperation with NASA. Hayes asked international partners at the GEO summit to assist with developing the remaining information that would be needed for a comprehensive global land-cover database.
The first set of products will describe the Earth’s land cover conditions as of 2010, and will include:
– A 2010 global land-cover characteristics baseline providing quantitative measures of six major land-cover characteristics– percent tree, shrub, herbaceous, surface water and wetness, snow/ice, or barren land-cover. This should be completed by December 2012.
– A 2010 global map of land-cover and land-use types—such as urban and built-up areas, agriculture, forests, grasslands, shrublands, water bodies, wetlands, snow and ice and barren areas– using the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization classification system. This global layer should be completed by December 2013.
Once the baselines are established, it is envisioned that the land-cover characteristics product will be updated annually and the land-cover-type map every five years.