Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

National Land Cover Database 2019: A comprehensive strategy for creating the 1986-2019 forest disturbance product

January 30, 2023

The National Land Cover Database (NLCD) 2016 products show that, between 2001 and 2016, nearly half of the land cover change in the conterminous United States (CONUS) involved forested areas. To ensure the quality of NLCD land cover and land cover change products, it is important to accurately detect the location and time of forest disturbance. We designed a comprehensive strategy to integrate a continuous time series forest change detection method and a discrete 2-date forest change detection method to produce the NLCD 1986–2019 forest disturbance product, which shows the most recent forest disturbance date between the years 1986 and 2019 for every 2- to 3-year interval. This method, the Time-Series method Using Normalized Spectral Distance (NSD) index (TSUN), uses NSD to detect multi-date forest land cover changes and was shown to be easily extended to a new date even when new images were processed in a different way than previous date images. The discrete 2-date method uses the Multi-Index Integrated Change Analysis (MIICA) method to detect changes between 2-date images. A method based on confidence and object grouping was designed to combine the multiple MIICA outputs to improve change detection accuracy. Finally, an aggregation scheme was implemented to combine the TSUN output, the integrated MIICA results, and ancillary data to produce the NLCD 2019 forest disturbance 1986–2019 product. The initial accuracy assessments from 1,600 samples over 4 Landsat path/rows show that the producer’s and user’s accuracies of the 2001–2019 forest disturbance map are 76% and 74%, respectively. The final CONUS-wide forest disturbance product is provided at

Publication Year 2023
Title National Land Cover Database 2019: A comprehensive strategy for creating the 1986-2019 forest disturbance product
DOI 10.34133/remotesensing.0021
Authors Suming Jin, Jon Dewitz, Congcong Li, Daniel G. Sorenson, Zhe Zhu, Rakibul Shogib, Patrick Danielson, Brian Granneman, Catherine Costello, Adam Case, Leila Gass
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Journal of Remote Sensing
Index ID 70241044
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center