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Type: Journal Article
Author(s): Suming Jin; Limin Yang; Zhe Zhu; Collin G. Homer
Publication Date: 2017

Monitoring and mapping land cover changes are important ways to support evaluation of the status and transition of ecosystems. The Alaska National Land Cover Database (NLCD) 2001 was the first 30-m resolution baseline land cover product of the entire state derived from circa 2001 Landsat imagery and geospatial ancillary data. We developed a comprehensive approach named AKUP11 to update Alaska NLCD from 2001 to 2011 and provide a 10-year cyclical update of the state's land cover and land cover changes. Our method is designed to characterize the main land cover changes associated with different drivers, including the conversion of forests to shrub and grassland primarily as a result of wildland fire and forest harvest, the vegetation successional processes after disturbance, and changes of surface water extent and glacier ice/snow associated with weather and climate changes. For natural vegetated areas, a component named AKUP11-VEG was developed for updating the land cover that involves four major steps: 1) identify the disturbed and successional areas using Landsat images and ancillary datasets; 2) update the land cover status for these areas using a SKILL model (System of Knowledge-based Integrated-trajectory Land cover Labeling); 3) perform decision tree classification; and 4) develop a final land cover and land cover change product through the postprocessing modeling. For water and ice/snow areas, another component named AKUP11-WIS was developed for initial land cover change detection, removal of the terrain shadow effects, and exclusion of ephemeral snow changes using a 3-year MODIS snow extent dataset from 2010 to 2012. The overall approach was tested in three pilot study areas in Alaska, with each area consisting of four Landsat image footprints. The results from the pilot study show that the overall accuracy in detecting change and no-change is 90% and the overall accuracy of the updated land cover label for 2011 is 86%. The method provided a robust, consistent, and efficient means for capturing major disturbance events and updating land cover for Alaska. The method has subsequently been applied to generate the land cover and land cover change products for the entire state of Alaska.

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Citation: Jin, Suming; Yang, Limin; Zhu, Zhe; Homer, Collin G. 2017. A land cover change detection and classification protocol for updating Alaska NLCD 2001 to 2011. Remote Sensing of Environment 195:44-55.

Cataloging Information

  • fire disturbance
  • forest harvest
  • land cover change
  • NLCD - National Land Cover Database
  • snow
  • water
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Record Maintained By: FRAMES Staff (
FRAMES Record Number: 23815