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Global Land Cover Mapping: A Review and Uncertainty Analysis

Department of Natural Resources and the Environment, University of New Hampshire, 56 College Road, Durham, NH 03824, USA
State Key Laboratory of Earth Surface Processes and Resource Ecology, College of Resources Science and Technology, Beijing Normal University, No. 19, XinJieKouWai St., HaiDian District, Beijing 100875, China
US Geological Survey, 2255 N. Gemini Drive, Flagstaff, AZ 86001, USA
Department of Forest and Wildlife Ecology, University of Wisconsin, 1710 University Ave., Room 285, Madison, WI 53726, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
These authors contributed equally to this work.
Remote Sens. 2014, 6(12), 12070-12093;
Received: 10 September 2014 / Revised: 6 November 2014 / Accepted: 24 November 2014 / Published: 3 December 2014
Given the advances in remotely sensed imagery and associated technologies, several global land cover maps have been produced in recent times including IGBP DISCover, UMD Land Cover, Global Land Cover 2000 and GlobCover 2009. However, the utility of these maps for specific applications has often been hampered due to considerable amounts of uncertainties and inconsistencies. A thorough review of these global land cover projects including evaluating the sources of error and uncertainty is prudent and enlightening. Therefore, this paper describes our work in which we compared, summarized and conducted an uncertainty analysis of the four global land cover mapping projects using an error budget approach. The results showed that the classification scheme and the validation methodology had the highest error contribution and implementation priority. A comparison of the classification schemes showed that there are many inconsistencies between the definitions of the map classes. This is especially true for the mixed type classes for which thresholds vary for the attributes/discriminators used in the classification process. Examination of these four global mapping projects provided quite a few important lessons for the future global mapping projects including the need for clear and uniform definitions of the classification scheme and an efficient, practical, and valid design of the accuracy assessment. View Full-Text
Keywords: global land cover; uncertainty analysis; error budget; classification scheme; accuracy assessment global land cover; uncertainty analysis; error budget; classification scheme; accuracy assessment
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MDPI and ACS Style

Congalton, R.G.; Gu, J.; Yadav, K.; Thenkabail, P.; Ozdogan, M. Global Land Cover Mapping: A Review and Uncertainty Analysis. Remote Sens. 2014, 6, 12070-12093.

AMA Style

Congalton RG, Gu J, Yadav K, Thenkabail P, Ozdogan M. Global Land Cover Mapping: A Review and Uncertainty Analysis. Remote Sensing. 2014; 6(12):12070-12093.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Congalton, Russell G., Jianyu Gu, Kamini Yadav, Prasad Thenkabail, and Mutlu Ozdogan. 2014. "Global Land Cover Mapping: A Review and Uncertainty Analysis" Remote Sensing 6, no. 12: 12070-12093.

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