Services | Land Cover Classification

The Global Ecosystem Center provides scientific land cover classification of high and moderate-resolution imagery.

Land Cover is the physical cover on the Earth's surface such trees, grass, roads, bare ground and water. Land cover classification involves the conversion of digital imagery obtained from an airborne or satellite collector into land cover categories that can be analyzed using a GIS. The imagery used in usually acquired on a moderate or high-resolution scale.


   Moderate-Resolution Classification

The most extensively utilized moderate-resolution imagery is acquired from Landsat satellite series. There are over 2.5 million scenes of the Earth's surface available.

The imagery is obtained free-of-charge online and is archived using an easy to understand path/row system. The data consists of 7 spectral bands and is available at a 30-meter resolution between 1984 and 2012.

An example of an application of Landsat imagery for land use planning is demonstrated with the images below of Goiania, Brazil. The GEC obtained archived Landsat imagery; the imagery was processed and classified into land cover categories. The classification methodology created 3 urban categories based on imperviousness. The resulting classification illustrates the expansion of the urbanized core over 26 years.

GEC's paper: "Remote Sensing & Classified Land Cover: Essential Land Use Decision Support Tools Using Moderate-Resolution Imagery" can be found here (PDF).




   High-Resolution Classification

High-resolution imagery provides detailed information regarding a landscape including the size and location of objects as large as roads, houses and trees, or as small as cars and backyard sheds. Once high-resolution imagery has been classified into land cover categories and incorporated into a Geographic Information System, it provides municipal managers and planners the resources to immediately gather and analyze data. This process includes investigating complex growth and development scenarios that require ancillary data such as demographics, transportation, precipitation and soils.

Below is high-resolution imagery and the resulting classification of Bellevue, Washington.

GEC's paper: "Remote Sensing & Classified Land Cover: Essential Land Use Decision Support Tools Using High-Resolution Imagery" can be found here (PDF).