Land-use/Land-cover (LULC) maps contextualize and quantify the impacts of earth processes and human activity on the environment. Organizations around the world are now using these tools to inform policy and land management decisions around issues like sustainable development. In continued support of these users and their goals, Esri, the global leader in location intelligence, in partnership with Impact Observatory, has released a global land-use/land-cover map of the world based on the most up-to-date 10-meter Sentinel-2 satellite data for every year since 2017. Following the latest 2022 data released earlier this year, the artificial intelligence (AI) model for classification has been improved, making the maps more temporally consistent.
Year-over-year changes detected in the LULC time series maps can be key indicators for analysts and decision-makers. The AI model performing the global classification has been optimized to reduce model insufficiency, class ambiguity, and sensitivity to seasonal variability. The result is a higher confidence that changes detected represent meaningful real-world changes.
“Users are working with maps that will accurately reflect events and earth processes that are happening in reality,” said Sean Breyer, Esri program manager for ArcGIS Living Atlas of the World. “We are constantly updating our land-cover map with new data and features, and this latest improvement ensures that anyone viewing temporal change can be confident what they are seeing represents the natural world.”
With planned annual releases, users have the option to make year-over-year comparisons in global land cover today and into the future. This is especially important for organizations like national government resource agencies that use this data to define land-planning priorities and determine budget allocations. Governments, businesses, and scientists can now more reliably make these data comparisons.
Esri developed its Sentinel-2 10-Meter Land Use/Land Cover Time Series with European Space Agency (ESA) Sentinel-2 imagery hosted on the Microsoft Planetary Computer, and with machine learning workflows developed by Esri Silver partner Impact Observatory.
“With Esri’s support, Impact Observatory was able to further improve these fully automated maps of the world, which have already been independently assessed as the most accurate global land-cover maps available,” said Steve Brumby, Impact Observatory CEO. “These maps provide important insights into the large-scale patterns of our changing planet.”
The global LULC time series is available online to more than 10 million users of geographic information system (GIS) software through Esri’s ArcGIS Living Atlas of the World, the foremost collection of geographic information and services, including maps and apps. It can also be viewed on the Sentinel-2 Land Cover Explorer, a dynamic, ready-to-use online application that allows anyone anywhere to easily observe change.