Land Cover Indicators for U.S. National Climate Assessments

Friday, 19 December 2014
Saurabh Channan1, Allison M Thomson2, Kathrine M Collins1, Joseph O Sexton1, Paul Torrens3 and William R Emanuel2, (1)Global Land Cover Facility, University of Maryland, College Park, MD, United States, (2)Joint Global Change Research Institute, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, College Park, MD, United States, (3)University of Maryland, College Park, MD, United States
Land is a critical resource for human habitat and for the vast majority of human activities. Many natural resources are derived from terrestrial ecosystems or otherwise extracted from the landscape. Terrestrial biodiversity depends on land attributes as do people’s perceptions of the value of land, including its value for recreation or tourism. Furthermore, land surface properties and processes affect weather and climate, and land cover change and land management affect emissions of greenhouse gases. Thus, land cover with its close association with climate is so pervasive that a land cover indicator is of fundamental importance to U.S. national climate assessments and related research. Moderate resolution remote sensing products (MODIS) were used to provide systematic data on annual distributions of land cover over the period 2001–2012. Selected Landsat observations and data products further characterize land cover at higher resolution. Here we will present the prototype for a suite of land cover indicators including land cover maps as well as charts depicting attributes such as composition by land cover class, statistical indicators of landscape characteristics, and tabular data summaries indispensable for communicating the status and trends of U.S. land cover at national, regional and state levels.