Land Change Monitoring, Assessment, and Projection (LCMAP)

Prototype 2011 land cover Pacific Northwest
Prototype 2011 land cover for a portion of the Pacific Northwest generated using automated LCMAP land classification capabilities.

What is Land Change Monitoring, Assessment, and Projection?

Land Change Monitoring, Assessment, and Projection (LCMAP) is a new U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) science initiative being implemented at the USGS Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center, that centers on structured, operational, ongoing, and timely collection and delivery of accurate and relevant data, information, and knowledge on land use, cover, and condition.

The objectives of LCMAP support a wide array of land science questions that will:

  1. Provide a geospatial land cover and land change record that is reliable and independently validated as scientifically accurate.
  2. Produce maps and statistics explaining how U.S. land cover is changing over time.
  3. Contribute to understanding why the changes are occurring and what their consequences are. 

Watch this video to see how Land Change Monitoring, Assessment, and Projection will provide a new way of presenting where, how, and why land change has occurred.

Why is LCMAP being implemented?

The U.S. Geological Survey has a long history of land cover study, starting in 1976 with this Land Use and Land Cover Classification System, and including land cover mapping and the ongoing production of the National Land Cover Database (NLCD). While these past projects have had a significant impact, land cover data needs are changing due to the demand for increasingly innovative and timely land cover products for scientific, geospatial land cover and land change inquiries. New strategies are needed that generate higher quality results that include additional land cover variables, more detailed legends, and more frequent land cover and land change geospatial and statistical information. The USGS response to this growing need is the LCMAP initiative. LCMAP uses Landsat Analysis Ready Data (ARD), which provides access to seamless, pixel-based, orthorectified time series data processed to both top of atmosphere and surface reflectance measurements, significantly reducing the magnitude of data processing for LCMAP users. The LCMAP initiative coupled with this Landsat archive modernization effort is the foundation that will help transform the USGS land cover legacy to a world leader in monitoring, assessing, and forecasting land cover and land cover change. 

How does LCMAP work?

With free and open access to the global Landsat archive that dates back to 1972, coupled with the recent reprocessing of the Landsat archive into analysis ready data (ARD), Land Change Monitoring, Assessment, and Projection (LCMAP) characterizes historical and near real time land change at any location across the entire Landsat record. LCMAP is able to achieve this through an innovative algorithm called Continuous Change Detection and Classification (CCDC) developed at the Center for Remote Sensing, Department of Geography and Environment, Boston University. The CCDC algorithm uses all cloud free pixel observations in a time series of Landsat ARD to detect change on the landscape based on the spectral and temporal properties of the land cover observed. The algorithm further classifies a pixel to identify what land cover types were observed before and after a detected land cover change. This revolutionary continuous mapping approach provides definitive information on how the planet is changing, why it’s changing and where it’s changing, to help support evaluations and decisions relevant to environmental management and policy. 

When will LCMAP data be available for download?

Testing of the Continuous Change Detection and Classification (CCDC) algorithm that was developed by Boston University researchers (Zhu and Woodcock, 2014) is underway. Sample LCMAP land cover and land change data will be made available after science validation and quality assessment checks have been completed.