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A multitemporal (1979-2009) land-use/land-cover dataset of the binational Santa Cruz Watershed

June 17, 2011

Trends derived from multitemporal land-cover data can be used to make informed land management decisions and to help managers model future change scenarios. We developed a multitemporal land-use/land-cover dataset for the binational Santa Cruz watershed of southern Arizona, United States, and northern Sonora, Mexico by creating a series of land-cover maps at decadal intervals (1979, 1989, 1999, and 2009) using Landsat Multispectral Scanner and Thematic Mapper data and a classification and regression tree classifier. The classification model exploited phenological changes of different land-cover spectral signatures through the use of biseasonal imagery collected during the (dry) early summer and (wet) late summer following rains from the North American monsoon. Landsat images were corrected to remove atmospheric influences, and the data were converted from raw digital numbers to surface reflectance values. The 14-class land-cover classification scheme is based on the 2001 National Land Cover Database with a focus on "Developed" land-use classes and riverine "Forest" and "Wetlands" cover classes required for specific watershed models. The classification procedure included the creation of several image-derived and topographic variables, including digital elevation model derivatives, image variance, and multitemporal Kauth-Thomas transformations. The accuracy of the land-cover maps was assessed using a random-stratified sampling design, reference aerial photography, and digital imagery. This showed high accuracy results, with kappa values (the statistical measure of agreement between map and reference data) ranging from 0.80 to 0.85.