Research Title: Land Characterization and Data Management
Funding Level (millions of dollars):
Committee on Environment and Natural Resources (CENR) Component:
(a) Subcommittee: Global Change Subcommittee (100%)
(b) Environmental Issue: Large-Scale Changes in Land Use (24%), Natural Variability 7%, Exploratory 65%
(c) Research Activity: System structure and function: Observation (24%); Understanding (8%); Predict (8%) Data Management (60%)
U.S. Geological Survey
104 National Center
Reston, VA 22092
Point of Contact:
Terrestrial data are essential to understanding, modeling, and predicting global change processes, but they have not always been adequately represented in global change research. In response, this program makes significant contributions to the development, processing, preservation, management, and distribution of land-related earth science data for global change research. It also facilitates the use of the data by the global change modeling and research community, and supports interagency global change data management activities.
The program has three main activities whose products are already in use by global change researchers:
1. Land characterization research: Long-term, consistent land data sets at regional to global scales are being developed to meet the needs of global change modelers and researchers. Emphasis is being given to data sets related to land cover characteristics, soils, terrain, and derived data such as vegetation indexes and land surface brightness. Application of these data include modeling land- atmosphere exchange processes, mapping and analyzing vulnerability of arid and semi-arid land to changes in climate, and developing methods to monitor, analyze, and predict patterns of change in the landscape.
2. Land data directory, catalog, and inventory systems development: The Global Land Information System (GLIS) provides information about and access to global land data sets. An operational work-station version of GLIS provides information about AVHRR satellite data, vegetation index data derived from AVHRR data, Landsat MSS/TM data, and global cartographic and vegetation data.
3. Landsat maintenance and conversion: Current activities include conversion to a stable storage medium of approximately 300,000 scenes of post-1978 MSS data (30% of these data have been converted) and 170,000 scenes of Landsat TM data, and the development of improved Landsat data processing capabilities.
The quality of the program is evident in the dissemination and use of its products, like the Land Cover Characteristics Data Base, GLIS, and the Landsat archive, as well as the successful application of the data by global change researchers.
Land characteristics research is important to several national and international programs including NASA Pathfinder, USFWS GAP, EPA EMAP, USGS NAQWA, NASA BOREAS, USAID, IGBP LU/LC, UNEP/GRID, and the GCIP programs as well as the research and modeling activities of several universities. These programs are part of, or related to, each of the other USGCRP working group activities. Data management efforts of this program provide the core capability to link DOI with other agencies developing GCDIS, which is closely coordinated with the IWGDMGC, the EOSDIS program, and other national and international organizations involved with global change data management. Landsat data conversion is closely coordinated with the Landsat Program Office (NASA and DOD), NOAA, and EOSAT.
Land characteristics data sets are being used to improve the representation of the Earth's land surface in global and mesoscale atmospheric and other models, which are being used to predict the consequences of increases in greenhouse gases (GHGs), changes in climate, and the effects of desertification and deforestation. These data sets are also important to the information infrastructure necessary for effective ecosystem management, the preservation of biological diversity, and the development of adaptation and mitigation strategies to address environmental impacts related to the management of sensitive lands. GLIS is improving the efficiency with which researchers can access diverse data sets. Policymakers can evaluate data sets available through GLIS prior to ordering them. The Committee on Environment and Natural Resources (CENR) supports the Landsat data archive as an essential data source for global change research. Land characterization and data management are ensuring that this archive is preserved and the data are made available to the modeling and research communities and the public.