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Evaluation of four remote sensing based land cover products over China



Precise global/regional land cover mapping is of fundamental importance in studies of land surface processes and modelling. Quantitative assessments of the map quality and classification accuracy for existing land cover maps will help to improve accuracy in future land cover mapping. We compare and evaluate four land cover datasets over China. The datasets include the Version 2 global land cover dataset of IGBP, MODIS land cover map 2001, a global land cover map produced by the University of Maryland, and the land cover map produced by the global land cover for the year 2000 (GLC 2000) project coordinated by the Global Vegetation Monitoring Unit of the European Commission Joint Research Centre. The four maps used different classification systems, which made the comparison difficult. So we first aggregated these maps by reclassifying them using a unified legend system. A large-scale, i.e. 1:100 000 land cover map of China was used as the reference data to validate the four maps. The results show that the GLC2000 land cover map represents the highest accuracy. However, it has obvious local labelling errors and a zero labelling accuracy for the wetland type. The MODIS land cover map ranks second for type area consistency and third for sub-fraction overall accuracy compared with reference data, which may be affected by the local labelling error. The IGBP land cover map has good labelling accuracy, although it has a local labelling error and third consistency for type area. The labelling accuracy and type area consistency for the reference data of UMd land cover map is low. We conclude that the accuracies of all the datasets cannot meet the requirements of land surface modelling. For the reference data, i.e. the 1:100 000 land cover map, the classification system needs to be transferred to a well recognized one that has been used commonly in land surface modelling. In addition, we propose an information fusion strategy to produce a more accurate land cover map of China whose classification system should be compatible with the well-accepted classification system used in land surface modelling.


Youhua Ran, Xin Li & Ling Lu (2010): Evaluation of four remote sensing based land cover products over China, International Journal of Remote Sensing, 31:2, 391-401.

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