The National Land Cover Database (NLCD) provides nationwide data on land cover and land cover change at 30-meter (m) resolution. The current version of NLCD has quantified the U.S. land surface for land cover, percent impervious surface, and percent tree canopy cover for three periods: 2001, 2006, and 2011. The USGS, working in partnership with the interagency Multi-Resolution Land Characteristics (MRLC) Consortium, is currently producing the next version of the National Land Cover Database, called NLCD 2016. The NLCD 2016 will include three new products: percent shrub canopy, percent herbaceous canopy, and percent bare ground. For NLCD 2016 land cover, the new product employs a complex, multi-step modeling process on a time series of Landsat images from 2001 to 2016. This new approach results in a temporally consistent and spatially coherent land cover and land cover change trajectory that will considerably improve land cover accuracy.
To date, all land cover, land cover change, and imperviousness procedures, models, and documentation have been completed. All models have been scripted to automate the process, and operational production is underway. Herbaceous, shrub, and bare ground products are only being produced for the western United States. These models employ a specialized methodology using high-resolution satellite imagery and extra field sampling. The NLCD 2016 is scheduled to be released to the public by December 2018.
NLCD 2016, now in production, is a database with six main products: land cover, percent tree canopy, percent imperviousness, percent herbaceous, percent shrub, and percent bare ground.