The International Archives of the Photogrammetry, Remote Sensing and Spatial Information Sciences
Publications Copernicus
Articles | Volume XL-7/W3
Int. Arch. Photogramm. Remote Sens. Spatial Inf. Sci., XL-7/W3, 503–510, 2015
Int. Arch. Photogramm. Remote Sens. Spatial Inf. Sci., XL-7/W3, 503–510, 2015

  29 Apr 2015

29 Apr 2015

Utilizing the Global Land Cover 2000 reference dataset for a comparative accuracy assessment of 1 km global land cover maps

M. Schultz1, N. E. Tsendbazazr1, M. Herold1, M. Jung2, P. Mayaux3, and H. Goehman4 M. Schultz et al.
  • 1Laboratory of Geo-Information Science and Remote Sensing, Wageningen University, the Netherlands
  • 2Department of Biogeochemical Integration, Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, Germany
  • 3Institute for Environment and Sustainability, European Commission, Joint Research Centre, Belgium
  • 4Institute of Geography, University of Jena, Germany

Keywords: global land cover, accuracy assessment, comparison, reference dataset, landscape heterogeneity

Abstract. Many investigators use global land cover (GLC) maps for different purposes, such as an input for global climate models. The current GLC maps used for such purposes are based on different remote sensing data, methodologies and legends. Consequently, comparison of GLC maps is difficult and information about their relative utility is limited. The objective of this study is to analyse and compare the thematic accuracies of GLC maps (i.e., IGBP-DISCover, UMD, MODIS, GLC2000 and SYNMAP) at 1 km resolutions by (a) re-analysing the GLC2000 reference dataset, (b) applying a generalized GLC legend and (c) comparing their thematic accuracies at different homogeneity levels. The accuracy assessment was based on the GLC2000 reference dataset with 1253 samples that were visually interpreted. The legends of the GLC maps and the reference datasets were harmonized into 11 general land cover classes. There results show that the map accuracy estimates vary up to 10-16% depending on the homogeneity of the reference point (HRP) for all the GLC maps. An increase of the HRP resulted in higher overall accuracies but reduced accuracy confidence for the GLC maps due to less number of accountable samples. The overall accuracy of the SYNMAP was the highest at any HRP level followed by the GLC2000. The overall accuracies of the maps also varied by up to 10% depending on the definition of agreement between the reference and map categories in heterogeneous landscape. A careful consideration of heterogeneous landscape is therefore recommended for future accuracy assessments of land cover maps.