Accurate and up-to-date global land cover data sets are necessary for various global change research studies including climate change, biodiversity conservation, ecosystem assessment, and environmental modeling. In recent years, substantial advancement has been achieved in generating such data products. Yet, we are far from producing geospatially consistent high-quality data at an operational level. We compared the recently available Global Land Cover 2000 (GLC-2000) and MODerate resolution Imaging Spectrometer (MODIS) global land cover data to evaluate the similarities and differences in methodologies and results, and to identify areas of spatial agreement and disagreement. These two global land cover data sets were prepared using different data sources, classification systems, and methodologies, but using the same spatial resolution (i.e., 1 km) satellite data. Our analysis shows a general agreement at the class aggregate level except for savannas/shrublands, and wetlands. The disagreement, however, increases when comparing detailed land cover classes. Similarly, percent agreement between the two data sets was found to be highly variable among biomes. The identified areas of spatial agreement and disagreement will be useful for both data producers and users. Data producers may use the areas of spatial agreement for training area selection and pay special attention to areas of disagreement for further improvement in future land cover characterization and mapping. Users can conveniently use the findings in the areas of agreement, whereas users might need to verify the informaiton in the areas of disagreement with the help of secondary information. Learning from past experience and building on the existing infrastructure (e.g., regional networks), further research is necessary to (1) reduce ambiguity in land cover definitions, (2) increase availability of improved spatial, spectral, radiometric, and geometric resolution satellite data, and (3) develop advanced classification algorithms.

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Chandra Giri
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Chandra Giri
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