Numerous global-scale land-cover datasets have greatly contributed to the study of global environmental change and the sustainable management of natural resources. However, land-cover datasets inevitably experience information loss because of the nature of the uncertainty in the interpretation of remote-sensing images. Therefore, analyzing the spatial consistency of multi-source land-cover datasets on the global scale is important to maintain the consistency of time and consider the effects of land-cover changes on spatial consistency. In this study, we assess the spatial consistency of five land-cover datasets, namely, GLC2000, CCI LC, MCD12, GLOBCOVER and GLCNMO, at the global and continental scales through climate and elevation partitions. The influencing factors of surface conditions and data producers on the spatial inconsistency are discussed. The results show that the global overall consistency of the five datasets ranges from 49.2% to 67.63%. The spatial consistency of Europe is high, and the multi-year value is 66.57%. In addition, the overall consistency in the EF climatic zone is very high, around 95%. The surface conditions and data producers affect the spatial consistency of land-cover datasets to different degrees. CCI LC and GLCNMO (2013) have the highest overall consistencies on the global scale, reaching 67.63%. Generally, the consistency of these five global land-cover datasets is relatively low, increasing the difficulty of satisfying the needs of high-precision land-surface-process simulations.
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