The purpose of this project is to quantify land use and land cover change between 2001-2006 and 2006-2011 using remotely sensed satellite data. The project will also develop a long-term land change monitoring strategy for expanding the land change history timeline to the 2016 and 2021 time periods. The objectives will be met by developing a methodology for integrating data from multiple USGS data sources including the National Land Cover Database (NLCD), the LANDFIRE and Monitoring Trends in Burn Severity (MTBS) projects, and the Mineral Resources Data System. Data from other sources such as the USDA Cropland Data Layer (CDL) will also be investigated. Current focus is on the use of a decision tree classifier to integrate multiple land cover datasets. The priority will be on improving the mapping accuracy of land change due to forest harvesting and regrowth, the two most common conversions occurring in the U.S. Decision tree rules will be based on a geographic understanding of land change processes and accuracy assessment of the datasets using reference data collected by manual classification of land use and land cover using Landsat satellite imagery and high resolution photography to aid difficult interpretations.
Why is this research important?
This project provides a baseline for understanding the characteristics and variability of U.S. land use and land cover change. Climate and people’s use of the land are interrelated in complex ways and the results of land use and land cover change have a huge impact on quality of life and on the goods and services that people expect from the land.