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The Multi-Resolution Land Characteristics (MRLC) Consortium — 20 Years of Development and Integration of USA National Land Cover Data

National Exposure Research Laboratory (E243-05), USA Environmental Protection Agency, Research Triangle Park, NC 27711, USA
Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center, USA Geological Survey, 47914 252nd Street, Sioux Falls, SD 57198, USA
USA Geological Survey, North Carolina State University, 100 Eugene Brooks Ave., 127 David Clark Labs, Raleigh, NC 27695, USA
National Agricultural Statistics Service, USA Department of Agriculture, 3251 Old Lee Highway, Ste. 305, Fairfax, VA 22030, USA
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Coastal Services Center, 2234 S. Hobson Ave., Charleston, SC 29405, USA
USDA Forest Service, Southern Research Station, 4700 Old Kingston Pike, Knoxville, TN 37919, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Remote Sens. 2014, 6(8), 7424-7441;
Received: 6 May 2014 / Revised: 16 July 2014 / Accepted: 24 July 2014 / Published: 11 August 2014
PDF [1522 KB, uploaded 11 August 2014]


The Multi-Resolution Land Characteristics (MRLC) Consortium demonstrates the national benefits of USA Federal collaboration. Starting in the mid-1990s as a small group with the straightforward goal of compiling a comprehensive national Landsat dataset that could be used to meet agencies’ needs, MRLC has grown into a group of 10 USA Federal Agencies that coordinate the production of five different products, including the National Land Cover Database (NLCD), the Coastal Change Analysis Program (C-CAP), the Cropland Data Layer (CDL), the Gap Analysis Program (GAP), and the Landscape Fire and Resource Management Planning Tools (LANDFIRE). As a set, the products include almost every aspect of land cover from impervious surface to detailed crop and vegetation types to fire fuel classes. Some products can be used for land cover change assessments because they cover multiple time periods. The MRLC Consortium has become a collaborative forum, where members share research, methodological approaches, and data to produce products using established protocols, and we believe it is a model for the production of integrated land cover products at national to continental scales. We provide a brief overview of each of the main products produced by MRLC and examples of how each product has been used. We follow that with a discussion of the impact of the MRLC program and a brief overview of future plans. View Full-Text
Keywords: C-CAP; change detection; Cropland Data Layer (CDL); GAP; LANDFIRE; NLCD C-CAP; change detection; Cropland Data Layer (CDL); GAP; LANDFIRE; NLCD
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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Wickham, J.; Homer, C.; Vogelmann, J.; McKerrow, A.; Mueller, R.; Herold, N.; Coulston, J. The Multi-Resolution Land Characteristics (MRLC) Consortium — 20 Years of Development and Integration of USA National Land Cover Data. Remote Sens. 2014, 6, 7424-7441.

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