The USGS, working in partnership with the Federal interagency Multi-Resolution Land Characteristics (MRLC) Consortium, has completed the production and release of the National Land Cover Database (NLCD) 2011 for Alaska. Coupled with NLCD 2001, this release has enabled the first-ever decadal land cover change analysis for Alaska.
NLCD serves as the definitive Landsat-based, 30-m resolution, land cover database for the United States. NLCD 2011 products for Alaska depict 19 classes of land cover and define the percent of surface imperviousness in urban areas. NLCD 2011 was produced with improved image analysis methods, resulting in a more accurate product that is fully integrated with previous NLCD versions.
NLCD is an essential resource for thousands of applications with wide-ranging research topics, from monitoring forest status and health and understanding urban water runoff to helping to develop land management decisions and policies. For more information on NLCD and to download NLCD data, visit http://www.mrlc.gov/.
By far, the greatest agent of change in Alaska between 2001 and 2011 was fire. Evergreen and deciduous forests in and around circled areas 1 and 2 burned; these forests have been succeeded by shrubs and grasslands. In circled area 3, woody wetlands burned and are now succeeded by herbaceous wetlands. There was very little change in Fairbanks proper (shown by the outline in the “Change” panel), but some new Urban-Open Space areas (light pink) appeared southeast of the city. The Tanana River was subject to the normal shifting of a braided stream, resulting in changes to water (blue) and small new areas of barren land (light gray) along the river’s channel.